Fund will be used for SoftBank’s HAPS business to connect the unconnected
SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434, “SoftBank”) today announced it decided to issue a Sustainability Bond* (an unsecured straight bond, also referred to as the “HAPS Bond”) during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022. Funds raised from the HAPS Bond will be used exclusively for SoftBank’s High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) business that aims to provide wide-area and stable telecommunications connectivity from the stratosphere. SoftBank plans to utilize the funds for capital expenditures, research and development, business operations and other areas related to its HAPS business. This issuance will be SoftBank’s first for a Sustainability Bond.
Guided by its concept of “a world where all things, information and minds are connected” to contribute to the creation of a sustainable society, SoftBank aims to help resolve social and environmental issues and enhance its corporate value by utilizing its robust business infrastructure and technologies such as 5G, IoT and IoT.
SoftBank provides telecommunications networks that are essential social infrastructure for daily life. “Building high-quality social communication networks” and “connecting people and information to create new excitement” are two of the managerial priorities (materiality, or key initiatives) SoftBank has identified, and by building stable telecommunication networks, it is working to foster an environment where all people have equal access to information. This initiative is helping to achieve SDGs Goal 9: “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation,” and Goal 10: “Reduce inequality within and among countries.” The HAPS business will play a key role in promoting this SoftBank initiative.
SoftBank’s HAPS are unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) flown in the stratosphere that act as airborne base stations. The UAS are operated to construct stable Internet environments that deliver connectivity to mountainous areas, remote islands, developed countries and other areas and regions lacking access to traditional telecommunications networks. Capable of providing LTE and 5G, HAPS services deliver connectivity directly to existing smartphones and other devices, eliminating the need for dedicated antennas and devices. By effectively using HAPS-based networks to complement terrestrial telecommunication networks, network operators can realize even wider network area coverage. As network infrastructure, HAPS is also expected to contribute to the digital transformation (DX) of industry. Furthermore, since HAPS provides stable telecommunications network connectivity from the stratosphere, HAPS is expected to play a role in rescue efforts and network recovery when large-scale natural disasters occur on the ground. In addition, “Sunglider,” the unmanned aircraft system developed by SoftBank’s subsidiary HAPSMobile Inc. (“HAPSMobile”), runs on solar power. Accordingly, the HAPS business will also help contribute to SDGs Goal 7: “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.”
SoftBank’s HAPS business is currently at the development stage, and full-scale commercial services from SoftBank are expected to begin in 2027. Since the establishment of HAPSMobile in 2017, research and development, global standardization activites, core network construction, business planning and spectrum usage initiatives have been ongoing, and an unmanned aircraft stratospheric test flight and test to deliver LTE connectivity from the stratosphere were successful. With the funds raised from the issuance of the HAPS Bond, SoftBank will further accelerate the development of its HAPS business.
In conjunction with the issuance of the HAPS Bond, SoftBank drew up a Sustainability Bond Framework that set policies for use of raised funds, the project evaluation and selection process, management of raised funds and results reporting based on International Capital Market Association (ICMA) guidelines. This framework has received a supportive second party opinion from the independent external organization Japan Credit Rating Agency, Ltd. (JCR). JCR is of the opinion the framework is compliant with the Green Bond Principles 2021 (ICMA), the Green Bond Guidelines, 2020 (Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan), Social Bond Guidelines (Financial Services Agency, Government of Japan, published October 2021) and the Sustainability Bond Guidelines 2021 (ICMA).
SoftBank will continue to work to resolve social and environmental issues and contribute to the realization of a sustainable society through its business activities.
For more on SoftBank’s sustainability initiatives, please visit this website.