Internet services firm Livedoor Co. and Fuji Television Network Inc. might reach a deal by the end of the month that would draw the curtain on their highly publicized battle over control of Nippon Broadcasting System Inc., sources said Wednesday.
Livedoor’s takeover of the radio broadcaster was widely seen as an effort to exert influence over Fuji TV, whose largest shareholder at the time the takeover bid began was NBS. For the past few weeks, Livedoor and Fuji TV have been in negotiations on the possibility of forging an amicable alliance.
Sources said that one item in the proposed agreement calls for Livedoor to “effectively sell” most of the shares it has acquired in NBS, enabling Fuji TV to make the radio firm its subsidiary.
Livedoor’s stake in NBS slightly surpassed 50 percent as of March 25, according to its statement submitted to a Finance Ministry office. Fuji TV earlier gained a 36.47 percent stake in NBS through a tender offer bid on the open market.
Another item that might be included in the proposals is that Fuji TV would get a stake in Livedoor by purchasing new shares to be floated by the Internet firm under a third-party equity allotment scheme, the sources said.
But the two sides remain apart on many details of the proposed compromise, they said, adding that it remains unclear whether they would be able to reconcile their sharp differences by an early date.
Livedoor said in a statement Wednesday that it was discussing possible capital and business tieups with Fuji TV, as well as how to deal with its shareholdings in NBS. It added that the two sides have not yet reached specific agreements.
A Fuji TV executive said it is “not easy” to bury the hatchet.
The firm issued a separate statement saying that talks with Livedoor were ongoing and that it would swiftly announce any deal struck between the two parties.
The two sides also appear to be discussing ways to realize a greater degree of integration of broadcasting and the Internet, the sources said.
As for a Fuji TV-Livedoor capital tieup, the sources said Livedoor initially proposed acquiring a stake in Fuji TV. But the broadcaster objected to the proposal, they said.
The two sides then started to discuss an alternative — to have Fuji TV obtain an equity stake in Livedoor, they said.
NBS was until March 24 Fuji TV’s biggest shareholder. On that day, the radio firm lent its 13.88 percent stake to Softbank Investment Corp.
Trading in Livedoor shares was suspended from 8:20 to 10 a.m. as the Tokyo Stock Exchange sought to give investors the opportunity to check media reports of a possible deal with Fuji TV.
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