The SoftBank Group comprises the pure holding company SoftBank, 235 subsidiaries and 108 affiliates (including 150 consolidated subsidiaries and 83 equity method companies)*1. The Group operates businesses in a wide range of fields, such as the Mobile Communications segment, the Sprint segment, the Fixed-line Telecommunications segment, and the Internet segment. The Group provides both advanced infrastructure and diverse services and content, and aims to become the global No.1 in mobile Internet.
- *1As of March 31, 2013
Second largest mobile operator in Japan
Japan is the third-largest mobile communications market in the world with revenue estimated to be worth JPY 10 trillion*3. It is also one of the most technologically advanced markets, for instance, Japan was one of the first countries to launch 3G and LTE mobile communications networks, in 2001 and 2010, respectively. We have benefitted and continue to benefit from favorable dynamics in the Japanese market, which promotes the growth and adoption of new technologies.
We own Japan's second largest mobile communications operation in terms of mobile subscribers with over 42.83 million as of June 30, 2013, including mobile subscribers from SoftBank Mobile Corp. (“SoftBank Mobile”) and eAccess Ltd. (“eAccess”), as well as PHS subscribers from Willcom Inc. (“Willcom”).
We have benefitted from certain unique aspects of the Japanese mobile communications market - more than 99% of mobile communication service subscribers in Japan are postpaid subscribers, with relatively low levels of churn and high average monthly revenue per user (“ARPU”). The increasing use of higher-value, advanced services demanded by postpaid customers causes us to remain innovative. Moreover, as of March 31, 2012, smartphone penetration stood at 23% of the mobile handset market, but has rapidly increased, and smartphones are expected to represent over 70% of total handsets sold in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013*4 and its further spread is expected in the future.
We take advantage of the attractive capability of the Japanese market to provide cutting-edge and innovative services, and to increase our market share.
Market-leading Growth Despite Strong Competitors
SoftBank Mobile, a core company of our domestic mobile communications business, is the fastest-growing mobile communications business operator in Japan in terms of total net subscriber additions since April 2006*3, demonstrating our success in competing with large, established incumbents. Although our main competitors were well established when we acquired our mobile communications business from Vodafone K.K. (currently SoftBank Mobile, “Vodafone Japan”) in April 2006 and subscribers' churn out was a major concern, SoftBank Mobile has outgrown our competitors in terms of net subscriber additions, since it first achieved the most net subscriber additions among our competitors in May 2007. We believe that this substantial growth is due to powerful marketing and branding strategies, innovative products and network enhancement.
Because we have significant experience investing in and operating Internet companies, we were able to anticipate the mobile Internet revolution and SoftBank Mobile was the first to offer the iPhone in Japan in 2008, which helped to further enhance the number of subscribers.
To achieve a further growth, SoftBank Mobile continues to promote a range of initiatives including the network enhancements.
High-quality and Reliable Network
We believe that the quality of the mobile network is a key factor in acquiring and retaining mobile subscribers. SoftBank Mobile has focused on maintaining and improving the quality and speed of its mobile communications network and increased network capacity to respond to the rapid rise in traffic attributable to increased penetration of smartphones and resultant increased data usage.
In July 25, 2012, SoftBank Mobile launched the 900MHz “platinum band” service after the frequency band was allocated in March in the same year. With over 20,000 compatible base stations as of March 31, 2013, SoftBank Mobile's smartphone call and data connection rates have improved to surpass its competitors. SoftBank Mobile has also increased access points for the SoftBank Wi-Fi Spot wireless LAN service to over 460,000 locations as of April 18, 2013, far more than any of our competitors, and utilizes AXGP network owned by our subsidiary Wireless City Planning Inc., which reduces the impact of traffic increases on its mobile communications network.
SofBank Mobile will continue to build 900MHz compatible base stations ahead of plan and also implement measures such as expanding the number of Wi-Fi spot. SoftBank Mobile will also increase LTE compatible base stations and actively utilize 1.7GHz LTE network owned by eAccess, which became our subsidiary in January 2013, to further improve convenience of high-speed data communication services.
We anticipate that enhanced network capabilities will help to accelerate the migration of subscribers to our services, and strengthen our competitive position relative to our major competitors.
- *2Created by SoftBank based on respective companies' publicly available information.
- *3Wireless Intelligence, April 2012 to March 2013
- *4MM Research Institute “Smartphone Market Scale Trends and Projections” (March 2013)
Synergies with various market-leading Internet businesses
We have significant stakes in a variety of leading Internet companies such as Yahoo Japan Corporation (“Yahoo Japan”), GungHo Online Entertainment, Inc. ( “GungHo”), Alibaba Group Holding Limited (“Alibaba”), and Renren Inc. (“Renren”).
Yahoo Japan operates Yahoo! JAPAN, a dominant search and portal site in Japan with an average of 50.7 billion monthly page views and 27.77 million active users in the three months ended March 31, 2013. GungHo, an online game company with a focus on mobile and PC games, recently became our subsidiary in April 2013. GungHo's hit game Puzzle & Dragons is currently one of Japan's top mobile games.
Alibaba operates the B2B service site Alibaba.com, the C2C online shopping site Taobao Marketplace, and the B2C online shopping site Tmall.com, through one of its affiliated businesses. All three are the leading Web sites in their respective fields in China*5.
Renren operates China's largest*6 real-name social network service (SNS) site, Renren.com, which currently boasts over 154.2 million activated users (as of March 31, 2012) through one of its affiliated businesses.
Our partnership with leading Internet companies allows us to participate in and gather information on emerging market trends and provide a strong platform for us to exploit synergies among all our business segments. We believe the combination of our infrastructure assets and Internet-related businesses create a platform that will enable us to continue to effectively compete with our principal competitors.
- *5Alibaba.com and Taobao Marketplace: data published by the China Electronic Commerce Research Center (August 1, 2011). Tmall.com: data published by Analysys International (March 22, 2012).
- *6Data published by iResearch (April 2012). In terms of total SNS page views and total stay time (April 2012).
Proven record of turning around acquired businesses
We have a proven track record of making significant acquisitions of temporarily struggling businesses and quickly returning them to growth and profitability, among active merger and acquisitions we made on various telecom & Internet companies for the aim to become the global No.1 in mobile Internet. Prominent examples include our acquisition of JAPAN TELECOM CORP. (currently SoftBank Telecom Corp.) in July 2004, Vodafone Japan in April 2006, and our making Willcom a subsidiary in July 2013. These group businesses have historically contributed to the enhancement of the SoftBank Group's corporate value, through creating synergies with the group's existing businesses.
In addition, we completed acquisition of Sprint Nextel Corporation (currently Sprint Communications, Inc., “Sprint”) in July 2013. We will fully leverage our experience and know-how we gained in mobile operations in the Japanese market, to help Sprint swiftly return to growth and profitability.
- *7FY2000： Operating income of JAPAN TELECOM CORP.
FY2001～2004： Operating income of JAPAN TELECOM CORP. and Broadband Infrastructure segment
FY2005～2011： Operating income of Fixed-line Telecommunications and Broadband Infrastructure segment
FY2012： Operating income of Fixed-line Telecommunications segment
- *8FY2000～2011： Japan GAAP
- *9FY2002～2005： Operating income of Vodafone K.K.
FY2006～2011： Operating income of Mobile Communications segment
FY2012： Operating income of Mobile Communications segment
- *10FY2002～2011： Japan GAAP
- *11Total of PHS and 3G subscribers
Strong cash flow generation and proven record of deleveraging
Net Interest- bearing Debt
(including lease obligations)/EBITDA Multiple
Our net interest-bearing debt, including lease obligations, to EBITDA ratio*12 following the Vodafone Japan acquisition was approx. 5x. Through our successful efforts to turn around the business, coupled with our cost and capital expenditure-related discipline used to maximize efficiency, we were able to generate strong cash flows and to decrease our net interest-bearing debt, including lease obligations, to EBITDA ratio to approx. 1x as of March 31, 2013.
While we expect our financial status to weaken temporarily due to the Sprint acquisition, we still have a much stronger financial position compared to seven years ago when we acquired Vodafone Japan. Moving ahead, we will use the strong cash flows from our domestic operations to reduce our net interest-bearing debt.
- *12Net interest bearing debt: interest-bearing debt - cash position
The figures in this page are shown in Japan GAAP. Refer to Quarter (IFRS) for IFRS-based net interest-bearing debt, EBITDA, and net interest-bearing debt/EBITDA ratio.
Internet business experience of management team
Our management team, in particular our founder and the Group's representative Mr. Masayoshi Son, has significant experience and knowledge in Internet businesses. Ever since SoftBank's foundation, we have focused on the Internet. From the very early days of the Internet, we have conducted an array of businesses on our own and made investments in various Internet companies in Japan and overseas. This extensive experience nurtured our managements' long-term vision in information industry, which has led to our successes in introducing the broadband service Yahoo! BB, bringing the iPhone to the Japanese market, and investing in Yahoo! Inc. and Alibaba.
We believe that our history of innovation in Internet services is a true asset for SoftBank as we continue in our competition. We continue to leverage our experience and knowledge to provide innovative services.
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- The iPhone trademark is used under license from Aiphone K.K.