Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp reported revenue of JPY8.901 trillion (USD78.3 billion) for the twelve months ending 31 March 2017, a marginal 0.2% improvement on the prior year, but operating profit climbed 12.9% year-on-year to JPY1.026 trillion and net income attributable to shareholders leapt to JPY1.426 trillion from JPY474.172 billion aided by cost cuts and a rise in subscribers at its US wireless unit Sprint Corp. Nevertheless, Reuters notes that Sprint, the number four player in the US market, is still loss-making and likely to merge with rival T-Mobile US; in February 2017 SoftBank was reportedly poised to cede control of Sprint to T-Mobile to clinch a deal. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son told reporters today: ‘We are prepared to enter talks with an open-mind about various possibilities to make the US telecoms industry truly competitive … The current US administration’s stance on the industry is far more open to deregulation than the previous administration’. The CEO said T-Mobile is a prime candidate, but noted that there are other possibilities.
In its domestic operations, SoftBank reported that net sales increased by 1.6% y-o-y to JPY3.194 trillion and adjusted EBITDA rose 3.9% to JPY1.209 trillion, fuelled by brisk growth in smartphone and SoftBank Hikari fibre-optic subscribers. Furthermore, as the low cost smartphone market expands, the company is also aggressively promoting expansion of the mobile communications service sub-brand Y!mobile. The number of cumulative mobile subscribers increased by a net 362,000 y-o-y to 32.4 million, although due to take-up of lower income Y!mobile users, telecom ARPU fell by a net JPY200 to JPY3,950 a month. Monthly churn of 1.24% in fiscal 2017 was a 0.11 pp improvement from 1.35%. Turning to broadband services, SoftBank had a total of 6.145 million connections at 31 March 2017, compared to 5.079 million a year earlier, broken down as SoftBank Hikari (direct fibre) 3.592 million, ‘Yahoo! BB Hikari with FLETS’ (1.385 million) and ‘Yahoo! BB ADSL’ (1.168 million).