World News

SoftBank shares close down 17% in biggest one-day fall

By Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) – Shares of SoftBank Group Corp <9984.T> closed down 17% on Thursday in their biggest one-day fall, hammered by investor scepticism over the outlook for tech bets, such as office sharing firm WeWork and ridehailer Uber <UBER.N>.

As economic gloom grows over a coronavirus outbreak, SoftBank racked up the second biggest fall in the benchmark index <.N225>, breaking the 3,000-yen level to close at 2,687 yen.

The one-day fall is greater than during the bursting of the dot-com bubble, which evaporated most of Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son’s wealth, as his plans to build a tech investing empire via the $100 billion Vision Fund stutter.

Uber’s shares closed down 22% overnight as people around the world stay home to try and slow the spread of the virus.

SoftBank is considering pulling out of a $3 billion tender offer for WeWork, sources said. The startup has taken long property leases but is exposed to customers pulling out of short co-working contracts as the economy deteriorates.

“WeWork is very likely finished as a viable business,” analyst Kirk Boodry wrote in a note on the Smartkarma platform, adding that “Softbank faces a third straight quarter of losses for Vision Fund.”

(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Anil D’Silva)