Livedoor Co. has increased its stake in Nippon Broadcasting System Inc. to more than 40 percent in terms of voting rights, officials of the Internet services provider said Monday, stepping up the pressure on Fuji Television Network Inc. in a high-profile acquisition battle.

Nippon Broadcasting is the largest stakeholder in Fuji TV, and if Livedoor succeeds in taking over the radio company, it could make its weight felt in Fuji TV’s management.

Livedoor officials said the company held more than 39 percent of the voting rights stake in Nippon Broadcasting as of last Friday. Livedoor had 37.85 percent on Feb. 8, as reported by the radio broadcaster in an updated statement Monday. In terms of outstanding shares, Livedoor’s stake was 34.99 percent at that time.

Livedoor plans to continue buying Nippon Broadcasting shares and it will consider sending its executives to the radio broadcaster to put it under its effective control. Livedoor aims to increase its shares in Nippon Broadcasting further to above 50 percent to make it a subsidiary, sources said.

They cited Livedoor President Takafumi Horie’s recent comments that his company will “buy as many (of the broadcaster’s shares) as possible.”

Nippon Broadcasting has been the focal point of the high-profile stake acquisition fight between Livedoor and Fuji Television Network Inc.

The fast-growing Internet service firm made a surprise announcement Feb. 8 that it had become the largest shareholder of Nippon Broadcasting after raising its stake to about 35 percent, challenging a tender offer launched by Fuji TV in January.

Both Nippon Broadcasting and Fuji TV are members of the Fujisankei media group. Nippon Broadcasting has long held about 22.5 percent — the largest stake — in Fuji TV, whose market capitalization is much bigger than that of the radio company.

On Jan. 17, Fuji TV announced a plan to make Nippon Broadcasting a subsidiary by upping its stake from the 12.39 percent it had as of mid-January to more than half.

But after Livedoor’s shock announcement that it was Nippon Broadcasting’s largest shareholder, Fuji TV lowered its acquisition target on Feb. 10 to 25 percent in a bid to prevent Livedoor from indirectly wielding clout over the TV broadcaster.

Under the Commercial Code, if Fuji TV gets a stake of at least 25 percent in Nippon Broadcasting, the radio broadcaster will be unable to exercise voting rights through its stake in Fuji TV.

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