Japanese Netco ousts Horie

TOKYO — The saga of troubled Internet powerhouse Livedoor reached a climax Tuesday with the dismissal of maverick prexy Takafumi Horie, who was arrested Monday on suspicion of feeding false information to investors.

Prexy will be 60-year-old senior veep Kozo Hiramatsu, who spent most of his career at Sony before joining Yayoi, an accounting software company that is part of Livedoor. He does not get a seat on the board of directors.

Fumito Kumagai, 28, a Livedoor director in charge of accounting and finances, becomes representative director of the board.

It is unclear who will get Horie’s CEO role.

Livedoor also said it had accepted the resignation of chief financial officer Ryoji Miyauchi, who was arrested with Horie.

Hisashi Hieda, chairman of Livedoor shareholder Fuji TV, said the network may ask Livedoor for some ¥9.76 billion ($85.6 million) in compensation for losses on Fuji’s stake in the firm.

He said the Fuji board would meet to review net’s Livedoor ties. As part of a tie-up agreement last April, Fuji invested $386 million in Livedoor for a 12.75% stake, spending $2.88 per share.

The share price fell to $1.54, the floor price for Livedoor stock, on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers market by the end of trading Tuesday morning.

To slow the tide of sell orders, the TSE limited trading in Livedoor and Livedoor Marketing to 90 minutes; it also placed the two companies in a special supervision category that is one step away from a delisting. The status of other listed companies in the Livedoor stable remains unchanged.

Horie and three members of his management team were arrested earlier in the week on suspicion of conspiring to spread false information to investors.

Investigators are focusing on suspect stock swaps and investor partnerships that inflated Livedoor’s share price. They’re also looking into allegations that Livedoor falsified its pretax profits for fiscal 2004.

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