SoftBank Denies It's Looking for Stake in Merged Vodafone-Idea

  • Company responds to a report it may buy as much as 20 percent
  • SoftBank says no such discussions, reports are ‘baseless’

SoftBank Group Corp. denied an earlier report that the company is in talks to participate in a proposed merger between Vodafone Group Plc and Idea Cellular Ltd in India.

The Japanese company may buy a minority stake in Vodafone’s India unit that will probably be merged into Idea Cellular, the Economic Times reported, citing people it didn’t identify. SoftBank would end up with 15 percent to 20 percent , the newspaper said. The report is “baseless and unsubstantiated” and SoftBank held no such discussions, the Tokyo-based company said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday.

SoftBank’s founder Masayoshi Son built the foundation of his global technology empire with an acquisition of Vodafone’s wireless unit in Japan in 2006. Son has also been among the most bullish investors in Indian startups, plowing hundreds of millions of dollars into its portfolio in the country including Uber Technologies Inc. rival Ola in the ride-hailing segment and Amazon.com Inc. rival Snapdeal. SoftBank is now in the process of closing a $100 billion technology fund with the government of Saudi Arabia.

SoftBank’s 4.625 percent bonds due 2020 climbed 18 cents to 111.405 euros on Thursday. The shares closed 1 percent lower in Tokyo .

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