(Bloomberg) — Japan’s government is considering holding off on its plan to sell about $10 billion worth of shares in Japan Post Holdings Co. through this fiscal year following scandals involving its insurance unit, according to people familiar with the situation.

Concern over corporate governance and the tumbling stock price have made it difficult to sell the third and final tranche of the shares, the people said, asking not to be named as the discussions are private. The timing of share sales for next fiscal year onward is also still unclear, they said. Japan’s financial regulator is considering penalties against the postal group after reports of misconduct in selling insurance policies.

Insurance Scandal Destroyed Trust in Japan Post, Panel Finds (1)

An official at Japan’s Ministry of Finance said that no concrete decision has been made over suspending the stock sale plan. A spokesman for Japan Post Holdings declined to comment, saying the decision is up to the ministry.

The finance ministry’s earlier plan to sell up to 1.06 billion shares as early as September was clouded when Japan Post Insurance Co. customers were found to be potentially getting worse terms after switching to new policies recommended by salesmen. Japan’s Financial Services Agency may issue a business improvement order to the parent, while an official has been punished over leaking information about those measures, Kyodo News said in separate reports this month.

The government is aiming to secure 4 trillion yen ($36.6 billion) from sales of Japan Post Holdings stock by the year ending March 2023 to fund recovery efforts from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and have so far gathered about 2.8 trillion yen through the first two rounds.

Shares of Japan Post Holdings have dropped about 19% this year and are trading below the 1,132 yen threshold that will allow the government to secure the remaining 1.2 trillion yen.

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2019-12-23