Japan Mobile Carriers Drop $25 Billion on Abe Rate-Cut Call

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Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s comments about mobile phone rates being too high have cost the nation’s three largest carriers more than $25 billion in market value since Friday’s close.

NTT Docomo Inc., Japan’s largest mobile-phone carrier by subscribers, and KDDI Corp. dropped 13 percent each over Monday and Tuesday, their biggest two-day slump since 2008. SoftBank Group Corp. sank 7.6 percent. The Topix index fell 1.2 percent.

The shares extended declines Tuesday, after Kyodo news wire reported Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi said the government would form a panel to cut mobile rates and achieve results within this year. Rate cuts may lower revenue at SoftBank and KDDI by about 10 billion yen ($83 million) this fiscal year and as much as 45 billion yen at Docomo, according to estimates by Nomura Holdings Inc.

“It will take several months to assess the impact,” Daisaku Masuno, a Tokyo-based analyst at Nomura, wrote in a report dated Sept. 14. “The ministry is fundamentally more interested in promoting competition than exerting direct control over charges.”

The ministry’s own research showed smartphone users in Tokyo had higher phone bills than their counterparts in Paris, Stockholm and Seoul, according to a report released in July. In one case study the monthly difference was as much as $32.

The two-day decline has pared Docomo’s market value by about 1.3 trillion yen, while knocking 1.1 trillion yen off KDDI’s and 594 billion yen off SoftBank’s, for a total of 3.03 trillion yen.

“We are considering various measure that will help us continue meeting diversifying needs of our customers,” said Fumihiro Ito, a SoftBank spokesman. Docomo and KDDI declined to comment.

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