Softbank Advances in Japan as Renren Said to Plan for IPO

Softbank Corp., Japan’s third-largest mobile-phone operator, rose to the highest level in more than four years in Tokyo trading on affiliate Renren.com’s plan for a $500 million U.S. initial public offering this year.

Softbank climbed 5.6 percent to 3,420 yen at the close of trading in Tokyo today, the highest level since April 2006. The stock has added 22 percent this year, compared with a 6.1 percent gain by the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average.

Renren.com, China’s largest social-networking service, is preparing an IPO to capitalize on strengthening demand for the nation’s Internet stocks, three people with knowledge of the plan said. The banks handling the IPO are Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, according to the people, who declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public. The offering could come by June, two of the people said.

“Investors are looking for positive news about Softbank other than the improvement in earnings,” said Hitoshi Hayakawa, a Tokyo-based analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG, who rates the company’s shares “outperform.”

Softbank is the biggest shareholder in Beijing-based Renren, with a stake of about 40 percent.