Livedoor Co., a provider of Internet and computer network-related services, said Monday it will team up with a bank in Yamaguchi Prefecture to launch an online bank this year.

The move comes on the heels of last week’s announcement by Yahoo Japan Corp., the nation’s largest Internet portal operator, that it will enter online banking by effectively buying Aozora Bank’s trust banking unit.

Livedoor said it has reached a basic agreement with Saikyo Bank, a small regional in Yamaguchi Prefecture, to set up a joint venture with capital of 2 billion yen. The venture will launch a bank, pending approval by the Financial Services Agency.

“We will be able to provide one-stop financial services on the Internet,” said Livedoor President Takafumi Horie at a news conference in Tokyo.

The new bank, tentatively named Livedoor Saikyo Bank, will provide settlement services for users of Livedoor’s retail, trading, auction and other businesses.

The bank will also handle loan services for individuals and small businesses.

The joint venture will be 49 percent held by a wholly owned Livedoor unit and 51 percent by Saikyo. Livedoor and Saikyo aim to reach a final agreement next month.

Horie said speedy decision-making was an important factor in choosing Saikyo as Livedoor’s partner. If they start Internet banking ahead of Yahoo, Horie expects the new bank to become as famous as Sony Bank Inc. Yahoo plans to begin banking operations by mid-2006.

Livedoor used to hold a stake in Internet-only eBank but sold it last year.

Livedoor has been expanding aggressively. Late last year, it tried to create a new professional baseball team but lost to Internet mall operator Rakuten Inc.

Saikyo Bank is known for its flexible management. Last year it headhunted a woman as the first female full-time board member in Japan’s banking industry.

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