Livedoor readying $2.86 bil buyout

TOKYO — Internet entrepreneur Takafumi Horie has gone on the offensive in his battle to take over the Fuji TV network.

His Internet service provider, Livedoor, is prepping a ¥300 billion ($2.86 billion) leveraged buyout of the Japanese commercial broadcast giant.

His move comes hot on the heels of Livedoor’s acquisition of a 50% stake in Fuji’s much smaller affil, Nippon Broadcasting System. As NBS is Fuji’s biggest shareholder, this already gives him a major say in the TV net’s operation.

But with Fuji fighting his hostile takeover via NBS, it seems he wants more direct control.

Fuji shares rose for a second day on the strength of the rumors to close at $2,726 in Japan.

Fuji TV is the core company in the Fujisankei media group, which has film, TV, radio, publishing and baseball interests. Livedoor has made no secret of its intention to seek a business tie-up with Fujisankei through this hostile takeover.

If Horie’s strategy succeeds, it would undercut plans to dilute NBS’ value by shifting its key assets to Fuji TV, such as majority holdings in music and video label Pony Canyon.

Fuji TV’s capitalization stood at $6.9 billion Thursday. Raising the capital to attack the network will stretch Livedoor to its limits.

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