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Uno to sell Livedoor Holdings stake

Morgan Stanley Japan affiliate buying 12.74%

Usen prexy Yasuhide Uno has decided to sell his 12.74% stake in troubled Internet startup Livedoor Holdings to a Japan affiliate of Morgan Stanley, Usen reported on Friday. Uno said his reason for dumping his shares was that his “role and purpose as a support for the new management structure at Livedoor has ended.”

Uno did not disclose the sale price, but he bought his shares for about Y9.5 billion ($80.5 million) in the spring of 2005 from the Fuji TV web.

At the time, he spoke of achieving synergies between Livedoor, with its Internet expertise, and Usen, which was expanding from its base in telecommunications into a range of Internet-related businesses, including entertainment portal Gyao, but results of the partnership have so far been modest. Uno has expressed a desire to maintain a cooperative relationship with Livedoor but shows no interest in re-establishing capital ties.

As of the end of March, Uno was the third-largest shareholder in Livedoor, following Goldman Sachs (21.24%) and disgraced former Livedoor prexy Takafumi Horie (17 %).

Livedoor was a stock market high flyer until Horie and other Livedoor execs were arrested in January 2006 for trying to manipulate the company’s share price through financial finagling. Livedoor’s stock fell off a cliff, taking thousands of small investors with it, but Uno, who came in after the worst was over, avoided a similar fate. In March, Horie received a 2½-year sentence for securities fraud, but plans to appeal.

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