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Japan Post's $11B triple listing expected in November: sources

Takaya Yamaguchi
A pedestrian walks past signage for Japan Post Co. outside the company's branch in Tokyo, Japan,.
Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Japan Post Holdings is expected to list shares in its holding company and bank and insurance units on Nov. 4, several people close to the deal said on Friday, in Japan's biggest sale of state-owned enterprises in nearly three decades.

The government aims to sell at least 1.3 trillion yen ($11 billion) worth of shares, the sources said, in the first tranche of a three-part sale aiming to raise around 4 trillion yen over the coming four to six years to fund reconstruction from Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

The mammoth IPO, a decade in the making, reflects Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to invigorate the nation's big public financial institutions and help lift the world's third-biggest economy out of two decades of deflation and tepid growth.

The proportion of the offering reserved for domestic investors was boosted to 80 percent from the roughly 50-50 split initially envisaged between foreign and domestic sales, a Finance Ministry official said, after Abe pushed for greater participation by domestic investors.

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Spokesmen for Japan Post and the Tokyo Stock Exchange declined to comment. Officials at the Finance Ministry in charge of the sale could not be reached.

The sale also helps the government exploit a doubling in Tokyo stock prices since Abe took office in December 2012 as it seeks revenue and struggles with the industrialized world's biggest public debt burden.

Companies raised $11.4 billion in IPOs in Japan's stock market last year, Thomson Reuters data show, up 17 percent from 2013 and 55 percent more than the average of the previous five years. That slowed to $2.4 billion in the first half of this year but the Japan Post listing, as well as expected IPOs from Osaka-based Universal Studios Japan and messaging app creator Line Corp (IPO-LINE.T) are set to boost the total significantly.

Mammoth IPO

The first round of share sales would be Japan's biggest privatization since the 2.4 trillion yen listing of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. in 1987.

Despite the looming flood of fresh supply, market participants believe the launch will on balance be positive for the market by encouraging more people to buy stocks.

"It's going to attract many new investors," said Hiroyuki Nakai, chief strategist, Tokai Tokyo Research Center.

He drew parallels to the NTT listing, when the benchmark Nikkei stock index was around current levels and, like now, interest rates were low and oil was cheap.

"That led to a rush of new investors to the market. This time, there's a similar background to the Japan Post listing," he said.

Japan Post, which runs the nation's mail-delivery service, applied to the Tokyo Stock Exchange in June to list the parent as well as Japan Post Bank Co. and Japan Post Insurance Co. Approval from the bourse is expected on Sept. 10, said the sources, who asked not to be named as the information is not public.

The Finance Ministry, which owns the company, aims to retain a one-third stake once all three tranches of the sale are complete. The group's consolidated net asset value was 15.3 trillion yen at the end of March.

The privatization of Japan Post was first made into law in 2005 under then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi but it was a highly divisive issue as postmasters at the nation's more than 20,000 post offices hold considerable political clout with the ruling party.

"We've been waiting for the prospectus in the mail since Koizumi was in office, so for Abe to pull it off is a bit of a coup," said Gavin Parry, managing director of brokerage Parry International Trading in Hong Kong.

(Additional reporting by Thomas Wilson, Joshua Hunt, Taiga Uranaka and Tetsushi Kajimoto; Writing by William Mallard)