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Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. may reduce its stake in cellular unit NTT DoCoMo Inc. but will not permit its ownership to drop below 50 percent, NTT executives said Thursday.

NTT Corp. is the holding company of telecommunications giant NTT and holds 67 percent of DoCoMo.

At its annual shareholders’ meeting in Tokyo, some NTT stockholders argued that the holding company should not sell shares in DoCoMo, which, as the most profitable company in the group, generated 63 percent of NTT’s pretax profits for fiscal 1999.

But some politicians and analysts have been calling for the firm to sell some of the shares so it can use the revenue to reduce interconnection charges.

Speaking before some 1,600 shareholders, Kanji Koide, a board member of NTT, said the holding company’s ownership may decide to reduce its stake if DoCoMo raises capital overseas.

The remark apparently indicates the possibility of DoCoMo forming a capital alliance with other foreign carriers amid the ongoing realignment of the global telecom industry.

But, he emphasized, “We will not let (our ownership) fall below 50 percent.”

President Junichiro Miyazu, meanwhile, reiterated that NTT will continue to seek the eventual abolition of the NTT Law, which strictly regulates the activities of NTT group firms.

Paper tieup approval

Nippon Paper Industries Co., Japan’s largest paper manufacturer, and Daishowa Paper Mfg. Co., the fourth largest, won approval for their planned merger in April 2001 at their respective annual shareholders’ meetings Thursday.

Daio Paper Co., the nation’s third-largest paper manufacturer and the biggest stakeholder in Daishowa, objected.

but the plan was endorsed with the majority of shareholders giving their approval. Nippon Paper shareholders voiced no objections.

Daio had earlier filed a complaint with the Fair Trade Commission, claiming that the planned merger would violate the Antimonopoly Law.