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Livedoor bid alive again

District Court decides in favor of injunction

TOKYO — The ongoing saga of Internet portal operator Livedoor’s hostile takeover bid for Fuji TV took a new turn Friday when the Tokyo District Court decided in favor of an injunction sought by Livedoor prexy Takafumi Horie.

Injunction bars Fuji radio affiliate Nippon Broadcasting System from issuing share warrants to Fuji that would have allowed the TV giant to regain a 70% majority in NBS and thwarted Livedoor’s hostile takeover.

Horie had argued that issuing such warrants would be in breach of Japan’s commercial code.

With Fuji TV’s options running out as it tries to gain control of the radio broadcaster, which is also a core company of the Fujisankei media group, Fuji chairman Hisashi Hieda on Saturday hinted for the first time at talks with Livedoor to explore a business tie-up “if there is any merit in it.”

Although NBS appealed the court’s ruling immediately, pundits in Tokyo believe both sides eventually will enter negotiations.

As of March 14, Livedoor held 45.5% and Fuji TV 39.26% of NBS in terms of voting rights, the latter through its successful public tender offer.

As NBS controls 22% of Fuji TV, the radio station is an ideal entry point to influence Fuji TV. Thus Livedoor will continue to acquire NBS shares on the market in its attempt to secure a controlling stake before a crucial NBS shareholders meeting in June.

Livedoor sent a letter to NBS management over the weekend, warning its members not to shift any core assets of the company to other companies of the Fujisankei Group. Key among those are NBS’ stake in Fuji TV and in music and video distrib Pony Canyon.

One kingmaker in any future NBS management setup could be Yoshiaki Murakami, president of M&A Consulting, which as of Jan. 5 owned an 18.6% stake in NBS.

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