Struggling retailer Daiei Inc. has sought assistance from a governmental corporate revival body in the reconstruction of its baseball operations and real estate business in Fukuoka, sources close to the case said Saturday.

According to the sources, Daiei President Kunio Takagi met Friday with Atsushi Saito, president of the Industrial Revitalization Corp. of Japan.

Takagi requested that the IRCJ purchase loans held by nonprimary lenders against Daiei’s Fukuoka business, the sources said.

The business pertains to the management of the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks professional baseball team, the Fukuoka Dome baseball stadium and the adjacent Sea Hawk Hotel and Resort.

Takagi explained that Daiei plans to sell the ballpark and hotel to a foreign investor to reduce the Daiei group’s interest-bearing debts, the sources said. But Takagi is believed to have told Saito that the company will continue to own the baseball team.

Daiei is to select one company among three U.S. firms to purchase the Fukuoka property, the sources said.

They are investment firms Ripplewood Holdings LLC, Colony Capital Inc. and brokerage firm Lehman Brothers.

The three are scheduled to announce the prices they are willing to pay for the operations, as well as their plans to revitalize the ballpark and hotel, to Daiei by the middle of this month, the sources said.

After the selection is made, Daiei will submit a formal request for assistance to the IRCJ, they added.

The IRCJ was launched by the government in April in a bid to simultaneously revive both industrial and financial circles by turning around heavily indebted but otherwise viable firms by disposing of their bad loans.

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