Loeb’s Third Point Discloses $1 Billion SoftBank Stake

Daniel Loeb, the activist investor who runs hedge fund Third Point LLC, said his firm has taken a stake in SoftBank Corp. valued at more than $1 billion.

Loeb disclosed the stake at the Robin Hood Foundation’s investor conference in New York yesterday, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. investment firm.

SoftBank shares climbed to their highest since 2000 in Tokyo trading. Loeb, who earlier this year pushed for a spinoff of a portion of Sony Corp.’s entertainment unit, invested in SoftBank because of its long-term value and isn’t agitating for asset sales, according to a person familiar with the matter.

SoftBank, which has been involved in more than 10 deals in the past year, wants to acquire makers of games, music and videos as it tries to generate more revenue from smartphone users. The Tokyo-based company founded by billionaire Masayoshi Son paid $21.6 billion for Sprint Corp. in July before adding agreements for majority stakes in game developer Supercell Oy and U.S. mobile phone distributor Brightstar Corp. in October.

Elissa Doyle, a spokeswoman for Third Point, declined to comment, as did Hiroe Kotera, a spokeswoman for SoftBank.

Shares Jump

Shares of SoftBank rose 2.3 percent yen to close at 8,150 yen in Tokyo trading, the highest since May 10, 2000. Based on SoftBank’s market value of 9.8 trillion yen ($97 billion), Third Point’s stake would equal about 1 percent, compared with the 6.5 percent it has said it holds in Sony. Sprint jumped 8.2 percent to $7.95 in New York yesterday.

Loeb met Son and was impressed by the Japanese billionaire’s leadership and prospects, the people said. Third Point likes SoftBank’s organic growth potential and investments in gamemaker GungHo Online Entertainment Inc. and Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the people said.

Tokyo-based SoftBank owns about 37 percent of Alibaba. China’s biggest e-commerce operator is worth as much as $190 billion, analysts at Sanford Bernstein said last month. That potentially values SoftBank’s stake at $70 billion.

Loeb began pushing for changes at Sony in May.

After acquiring control of Sprint, the third-biggest U.S. mobile-phone company, Son is seeking to apply the same formula that has helped SoftBank gain market share in Japan -- luring heavy users of wireless Internet service. Sprint is spending $16 billion during two years on improvements to its network speed and reliability, planning to catch up with AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless.

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