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UPDATE 1-SoftBank Group unveils stock split, rakes in higher profit on tech bets

Sam Nussey


* SoftBank to split shares two-for-one

* SoftBank to maintain dividend at 44 yen per share

* Vision Fund bets worth $72.3 bln vs $60.1 bln acquisition cost (Recasts with stock split, adds details)

TOKYO, May 9 (Reuters) - Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp's announced a stock split while keeping the per-share dividend unchanged for the year, effectively doubling its shareholder payout, as it also reported a better-than-expected annual profit.

SoftBank's common stock will be split at a two-for-one ratio on June 27, while its dividend will stay at 44 yen per share.

The tech and telecoms group's operating profit for the year ended March rose 80.5 percent to 2.4 trillion yen ($22 billion), driven by higher valuations of its tech investments.

That was above a 2.1 trillion yen SmartEstimate that gives a greater weighting to top-rated analysts, Refinitiv data shows.

The results come at a time when SoftBank and its almost $100 billion Vision Fund stand at a possible inflection point as some of its biggest tech bets like Uber Technologies head to the public markets, in what investors and industry experts see as a test of its strategy.

SoftBank is also considering listing the Saudi-backed Vision Fund, which has invested roughly $80 billion in around 80 tech firms, a source told Reuters last week.

On Thursday, SoftBank said the value of Vision Fund's investments in 69 companies had risen to $72.3 billion at end-March, from their $60.1 billion acquisition cost, driven by gains at companies like Uber and Indian hotels startup OYO.

SoftBank did not provide a forecast for the current financial year, citing uncertain business factors. ($1 = 109.9100 yen) (Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Himani Sarkar)