Japan's SoftBank Posts Q3 Profit Slip of 5.9 Percent

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Softbank's charismatic leader, Masayoshi Son

The Japanese telecom giant invested $250 million in Legendary Entertainment in October and engaged in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation last April.

Japanese telecom giant SoftBank Corp., which made a $250 million investment in Legendary Entertainment last October, posted on Tuesday a 5.9 percent slide in operating profit for the third quarter of 2014. The company's loss-making U.S.-ownership of Sprint Corp. continued to weigh on profits, causing the Japanese firm to miss its Q3 target.

SoftBank's operating profit from October to December was $1.6 billion (191.39 billion yen), down from $1.7 billion (203.46 billion yen) the year prior. The company made no adjustment to its full-year forecasts for the year to March. Operating profit expectations remain set at 900 billion yen and net sales at 8 trillion yen.

SoftBank, which acquired control of Sprint for more than $20 billion in 2012, is also the largest shareholder in Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, which went public in a blockbuster initial offering last September. Softbank's 30 percent stake in Alibaba, which it acquired in 2000 for $20 million, is now estimated to be worth more than $50 billion. The company's maverick founder and CEO, Masayoshi Son, has said he expects big things of Alibaba and has no intention of selling the stake. 

Earlier this month, the company's struggling Sprint unit reported Q3 revenue fell less than expected, following a boost to its subscriber base driven by discounts and promotions. But the company's net loss more than doubled to $2.38 billion as it continues to battle stronger competitors AT&T Inc and Verizon, while shedding employees and updating its network.

Last April, Softbank engaged in active talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation for $3.4 billion, which THR first reported. While that deal failed to materialize, many analysts believe the Japanese firm remains on the hunt for content businesses that it can use to leverage its mobile platform and international network of Internet and media partners.