By Ritsuko Ando


TOKYO (Reuters) - SoftBank Group Corp said on Friday it was selling a further $1.1 billion of its shares in AliBaba Group Holding Ltd, 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.


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 Softbank, which holds a majority stake in U.S. wireless carrier Sprint Corp. Sprint 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.

(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Additional reporting by Yoshiyasu Shida; Writing by William Mallard; Editing by Nick Macfie and Jane Merriman)