TV ads for Japan Post’s ¥1.3 trillion share sale will target individual investors


Japan Post Holdings Co.’s underwriters will seek to attract retail investors to its ¥1.3 trillion ($12 billion) public offering, betting they will shrug off the stock’s slack performance and market anxiety over North Korea.

The shares are being sold as the government continues its privatization of the postal and financial services giant.

The Finance Ministry will sell 990.1 million shares, including an overallotment, it said in a statement Monday. That amounts to ¥1.3 trillion, based on the most recent closing price.

The public offering will be priced as soon as Sept. 25, almost two years after the holding company was listed along with its banking and insurance units.

Most of the shares will be sold to individuals.

Brokerages including global coordinators Daiwa Securities Group Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Nomura Holdings Inc. will start a television campaign to advertise the offering as soon as this week, sources with knowledge of the matter said earlier.

Japan Post will also buy back ¥100 billion worth of shares, meaning the government may raise as much as ¥1.4 trillion as it seeks to fund reconstruction of areas in the Tohoku region devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The deal may be the largest public offering of a single company in Japan since NTT Corp.’s ¥1.59 trillion sale in 1999, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The government raised ¥1.4 trillion when Japan Post and its banking and insurance arms debuted in 2015.

Facing a recent slump in their retail businesses, brokerages are counting on the deal to obtain new accounts from households who still have more than half of their ¥1.8 quadrillion in financial assets parked in cash.

Finance Minister Taro Aso said last week his ministry will monitor any impact on share prices stemming from the crisis with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

“Markets globally are taking a downturn given the concerns over North Korea, which will be negative,” said Mitsushige Akino, an executive officer with Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “Active market participants — momentum players who invest in the short term — won’t buy the stock. But individuals who are relatively wealthy and have bank deposits will.”

The government is reducing its stake in Japan Post to raise funds for reconstruction in areas devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region, and to encourage households to invest more of their savings.

“I’m interested in purchasing the shares,” said Tomeo Kawasaki, a 72-year-old retiree in Aichi Prefecture who also bought stock in the IPO. “I feel it’s a secure investment because it’s backed by the government and pays attractive dividends.”

Institutional investors may also be attracted to the stock after Japan Post was last week chosen to be added to the benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average. Its Oct. 2 inclusion may prompt passive funds to add the postal company to their portfolios.

It is rare for public offerings to be advertised on TV in Japan, where issuers are prohibited from soliciting securities. Underwriters also produced commercials during the ¥1.4 trillion IPO of the holding company and its bank and insurer. The 30-second ad showed a family happily drinking tea on a sunlit veranda overlooking a rice field.

About 80 percent of the IPO was allocated to individuals in Japan and 20 percent went to overseas institutions. It proved to be a boost for brokerages’ retail operations, with Nomura adding about 2,500 accounts each day on average in October 2015, almost double the daily average for 2014, sources said at the time.

It may be a tougher sell this time around. Shares of Japan Post have fallen about 4 percent since their November 2015 listing, compared with a 4.6 percent gain in the Nikkei. Shares of Japan Post closed 1.7 percent lower at ¥1,321 before the announcement. The stock has slid 5.6 percent since it began trading in November 2015, compared with a 5.6 percent gain in the benchmark Topix. The average 12-month target price of nine analysts is ¥1,501, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Japan Post posted a ¥29 billion loss in its first full year of operation since the listing, after booking a ¥400 billion writedown on its investment in Australian logistics company Toll Holdings Ltd. Profit at its banking arm fell as the central bank’s monetary easing crimped interest income.

“Investors’ interest in Japan Post is not that strong because the company relies on its banking and insurance units for most of its profit, and there are risks regarding negative interest rates,” said Masaharu Hirokane, an analyst at Nomura. Still, he added, “the structure of profitability is steady, and it can pay stable dividends.”

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