Livedoor Co., a Tokyo-based Internet services company, announced Wednesday it is trying to purchase the Kintetsu Buffaloes pro baseball team.

The owner of the debt-laden team has flatly rejected the offer.

Livedoor said it has set aside between 1 billion yen and 3 billion yen for the purchase, adding it is currently negotiating with people close to the union of professional baseball players.

However, the Osaka-based railway Kintetsu Corp., which owns the Buffaloes, issued a statement earlier in the day, saying, “We have clearly turned down the proposal from Livedoor.”

Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, Livedoor President Takafumi Horie said the firm would keep the Buffaloes as an independent team, keeping the current 12-team Japanese baseball system as it is.

The bid by Livedoor, a computer network consulting company launched in 1997, to acquire the Buffaloes came to light during negotiations on a proposed merger between the Osaka-based Buffaloes and the Kobe-based Orix BlueWave.

The planned merger between the two Pacific League teams was revealed June 13 by Kintetsu President Masanori Yamaguchi.

In the history of Japanese baseball, there have been five team mergers, including four since the single league split into two in 1950. The most recent merger was between the Daiei Unions and Mainichi Orions in November 1957.

The 12-team system was fixed in 1958.

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