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Fuji TV secures one-third stake in Nippon

Japan's Fuji Television Network Inc. said Tuesday that it has secured a 36.47 percent stake in Nippon Broadcasting System Inc. in a high-profile takeover battle for the radio broadcaster.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Japan’s Fuji TV said Tuesday it has secured a 36.47 percent stake in Nippon Broadcasting in a high-profile battle with an Internet service provider over control of the radio broadcaster.

Fuji Television Network Inc. said its tender offer bid, which closed Monday, had been accepted, enabling it to obtain enough shares to bring its stake in Nippon Broadcasting System to more than one third.

That allows Fuji TV to veto mergers, executive appointments and other important matters at the broadcaster’s shareholder meetings.

Fuji TV has been battling Internet services company Livedoor Co. Ltd. for control of Nippon Broadcasting.

Livedoor now owns about 40 percent of the broadcaster and has been seeking to buy more shares. Nippon Broadcasting is the top shareholder in Fuji TV, and control of the broadcaster would give Livedoor managerial influence over Fuji TV, Japan’s biggest media company.

Nippon Broadcasting has tried to block that, saying it will issue new stocks to raise Fuji TV’s stake, while diluting Livedoor’s.

Livedoor has requested an injunction in Tokyo District Court to block the warrant issue. A court decision is expected soon, but appeals could prolong the legal battle.

In Japan, group companies hold each other’s stakes in cross-shareholdings — a setup that has been entrenched here for decades to prevent takeovers and maintain insular management.

Livedoor President Takafumi Horie’s battle with Japan’s powerful old-guard media has been closely watched amid growing fears about young upstarts rocking the boat and foreign investors taking over Japanese companies.

Fuji TV is at the center of a media empire and includes a film studio, recording company, publisher and newspaper. Its executives have repeatedly refused to talk with Horie, saying an alliance with Livedoor is out of the question.

Both Livedoor and Fuji TV were trading higher on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Tuesday morning, shortly after the announcement.