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Seven & I to boost stake in Francfranc store operator

Kyodo

Seven & I Holdings Co. said Wednesday it will acquire a 48.67 percent stake in BALS Corp., operator of the Francfranc store chain selling fashionable general merchandise, furniture and kitchen utensils.

Seven & I will buy 19,286 common shares to be floated in January by BALS under a third-party new share allotment scheme, the retailer said.

The deal will make BALS, which runs some 150 Francfranc stores, into an equity-method affiliate, it said.

The acquisition of the BALS shares is expected to cost Seven & I some ¥5 billion, according to a source.

Seven & I has been following a business strategy of acquiring other retailers with an eye to enhancing its Internet mail-order retail business.

On Dec. 2, the company announced an agreement to acquire Nissen Holdings Co., a major catalog-based retail business. BALS became the fourth company this month in which Seven & I has decided to obtain equity stakes. Francfranc products have been popular among female consumers. Seven & I believes the stake in BALS will help it expand its merchandise lineup, it said.