The Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) on Tuesday urged the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to establish a law to ease rules governing companies’ share buybacks until March 2000 to revitalize the sluggish stock market.Takashi Imai, a Keidanren vice chairman, made the request in a meeting with former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa to enable companies to repurchase their own shares using an earned surplus and a reserve fund that is normally used for a capital increase. Miyazawa heads the LDP’s task force on financial system stabilization.Under current rules set by the Commercial Code, firms are limited in using such funds for share buybacks because existing rules stipulate that the amount of funds used should not exceed 50 percent of the profits available for dividends. According to Keidanren’s proposal for using such funds, companies must either obtain a special approval from an annual general shareholders’ meeting or obtain a special resolution from a board meeting, and then get approval at the next shareholders’ meeting.The deregulation is expected to increase the number of companies that will repurchase their shares, which will help boost per-share stock values. Miyazawa reportedly told Imai that he has already told key LDP members to discuss the possibility of easing rules for share buybacks.

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