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SoftBank Bulks Up Alibaba Deal by Selling $1.1 Billion More Shares

An employee is seen behind a glass wall with the logo of Alibaba at the company's headquarters on the outskirts of Hangzhou, Zhejiang provinceAn employee is seen behind a glass wall with the logo of Alibaba at the company's headquarters on the outskirts of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province
An employee at Alibaba's headquarters on the outskirts of Hangzhou. Photograph by Chance Chan — Reuters

SoftBank said on Friday it was selling a further $1.1 billion of its shares in Alibaba, bringing the total it has sold in the Chinese e-commerce company to $10 billion.

SoftBank on Wednesday said it would sell at least $7.9 billion of shares in Alibaba, marking the first sale of shares in the Chinese company since SoftBank began investing in it in 2000. The two companies said they would maintain a strategic partnership.

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The Japanese company said it was exercising a greenshoe option to sell more shares in Alibaba, in which it is the top shareholder. Softbank, which invests in telecoms and internet companies, sold more shares because of strong demand, a spokesman said.

The sale is expected to help to reduce debt at Alibaba (BABA), which holds a majority stake in U.S. wireless carrier Sprint. Sprint (S) is loss-making and has embarked on a cost-cutting drive.

Singapore state funds bought $1 billion of Alibaba shares in part of the SoftBank sale, Alibaba said on Wednesday.