Usen, Fuji mulling moves

Usen Corp., the Tokyo-based broadband service provider that owns film distributor Gaga Communications, is mulling a marriage with beleaguered Internet startup Livedoor, company officials revealed on Wednesday.

Usen issued the comment to the press in response to Japanese media reports that it was talking with Fuji TV about buying the web’s 12.75% Livedoor share. Company refused to elaborate on what form the tie-up could take.

Also Wednesday, Fuji TV chairman Hisashi Hieda told reporters the web is weighing the sale of its Livedoor shares. He did not name any potential buyers, but he did say Fuji would prefer a purchaser whose business “is related to Livedoor’s.”

Among other options, Fuji is considering suing its erstwhile partner for stock losses. Livedoor’s share price was ¥329 ($2.79) when Fuji was forced to buy a ¥44 billion ($373 million) stake in the company in May to end Livedoor’s hostile attempt to take over a radio broadcaster in the Fuji group. The stock price at the close of trading Wednesday was ¥85 (72¢). If Fuji holds onto the shares until the end of the March 31 financial year, it will book a huge loss.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange has decided to delist Livedoor shares effective April 14. Move followed the handing down of fresh indictments to former president Takafumi Horie and four other Livedoor execs for falsifying financial information to boost the company’s share price.

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