TOKYO: Japan Post will announce details of its long-awaited initial public offering in what could be one of the world’s biggest-ever share sales.
Plans for the IPO come amid hopes that the move by what is effectively the world’s biggest bank could boost investor sentiment and spur efforts to cut red tape in Japan’s highly regulated economy.
Executives from the government-owned company, which sits on assets worth up to 14 trillion yen ($117 billion), will discuss their plan at a press conference later in the day, a Japan Post spokesman said.
Japanese media have said the size of the deal would rival that of mobile phone giant NTT Docomo’s seven trillion yen IPO in 1998, the country’s biggest share sale to date.
The new listing would see Japan Post, which has major banking and insurance units, debut on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in September next year following the monster share sale, according to Japanese media.
Initially, some 10 percent of each unit would be sold to the public, they said.
The group’s mail-delivery unit will likely remain untouched amid social and political pressure to maintain the status quo, including the presence of post offices across the nation, even in the most remote villages.
Japan Post boasts a network of some 24,000 bureaux across many of the thousands of islands that make up the archipelago.
The branches also offer services for cash deposits and insurance, and a local branch where many of Japan’s ageing retirees withdraw their pension payments.
That system has long drawn criticism both inside and outside Japan, with financial institutions, carrier services and foreign governments arguing that the public body was operating in sectors where it competed directly with private businesses.
The government of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi split the state-owned behemoth into four units in 2007, to handle deliveries, savings, insurance and counter services at each of its post offices.
The government retained full ownership of the group at first, with plans for the bank and insurance units to go fully private by 2017.
But the plan was stalled after the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party lost power to the Democratic Party of Japan between 2009 to 2012.
After returning to power in 2012, the current LDP-led government has resumed privatization project.