According to the Nikkei, SoftBank Corp. plans to issue its first sustainability bonds as early as January to resurrect a project shelved by Google parent Alphabet Inc. aimed at beaming internet service from high altitudes.
According to the report, SoftBank intends to raise more than 30 billion yen ($261 million) in debt to fund projects related to its high altitude platform station business. Alphabet has transferred approximately 200 patents from its Loon project to SoftBank Group Corp.’s telecoms unit, the Japanese company announced in September.
SoftBank’s spokeswoman declined to comment.
Google launched Loon in 2013 as an ambitious effort to blanket the globe with internet connectivity via giant balloons drifting on high-altitude currents, but the unit was forced to close after failing to develop a viable business model. SoftBank, which invested $125 million in Loon in 2019, is working on its own wireless technology that employs fixed-wing autonomous aircraft as flying base stations.
After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami knocked out a large portion of its network in Japan, SoftBank began looking into alternatives to terrestrial antennas. In September of last year, the company’s solar-powered unmanned aircraft completed its first 20-hour stratospheric test flight in New Mexico.
According to the Nikkei, SoftBank is considering 7- and 10-year maturities for the bonds, with underwriters including Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities and Mizuho Securities.