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Debt-saddled retailer Daiei Inc. said Monday it has agreed to sell slightly more than half of the group’s equity stake in midsize construction firm Ichiken Co. to Toyo Techno Corp.

Daiei has a 29.51 percent stake in Ichiken. The 5.28 million shares it will sell to Toyo Techno are valued at about 400 million yen, Daiei said in a press release.

Daiei agreed to the sale as part of its three-year rehabilitation plan, which puts more priority on selling noncore business operations, it said.

The sale will lead to Daiei booking a capital loss of 1.2 billion yen on a group basis, it said. But the loss will have no effect on Daiei’s group earnings under the three-year rehabilitation plan.

The transaction will make Toyo Techno the largest shareholder of Ichiken, which builds Daiei stores and condominiums.

Daiei will become the second-largest shareholder, with 14 percent.

Toyo Techno specializes in building foundations for various buildings, chimneys and other structures involving special concrete.

Lawson bank links

OSAKA — Automated teller machines at Lawson Inc. convenience stores may be linked to more than 10 additional regional banks in the near future, officials of Lawson ATM Networks Inc. said Monday.

Lawson ATM Networks, a subsidiary of Japan’s second-largest convenience store chain, is negotiating ATM tieups with regional banks in such prefectures as Aichi and Fukuoka, they said.

“We would like to tie up with those regional banks within the next three years,” said one of the officials.

At present, customers can use cash cards from some major commercial banks and regional banks at Lawson ATMs, including the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., both headquartered in Tokyo, Michinoku Bank, based in Aomori, and the Hachijuni Bank, based in Nagano.

FamilyMart profits up

FamilyMart Co., Japan’s third-largest convenience store chain operator, said Monday its consolidated net profit rose 5.4 percent to 8.55 billion yen in the year to Feb. 28, helped mainly by fewer extraordinary losses.

Group pretax profit fell 4.4 percent to 25 billion yen, due to increased sales and management costs, despite an 11.1 percent gain in operating revenues to 195.61 billion yen stemming from an increase in the number of outlets.

FamilyMart closed 503 loss-making outlets and opened 515 new ones during the year, bringing the number of outlets to 5,287, up from 5,275, as of Feb. 28, 2001.

The company said it will keep its annual dividend unchanged at 38 yen per share.

For the current business year to Feb. 28, 2003, FamilyMart forecasts a group net profit of 12.2 billion yen and a group pretax profit of 27.8 billion yen on operating revenues of 214.6 billion yen.

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