• Compiled From Staff, Kyodo Reports


After a highly publicized battle for control of Nippon Broadcasting System Inc., Livedoor Co. and Fuji Television Network Inc. said Monday they have reached an agreement that lets them lay down their arms.

Under the deal, approved during respective extraordinary executive meetings in the afternoon, Fuji TV will gain Livedoor’s entire 50 percent stake in Nippon Broadcasting and eventually make the radio broadcaster a wholly owned subsidiary.

Fuji TV will purchase for some 67 billion yen a Livedoor affiliate that owns about 32 percent of Nippon Broadcasting’s shares. It will also purchase the remaining 18 percent of NBS shares held by Livedoor itself, according to the agreement.

Fuji TV will spend roughly 147 billion yen to carry out the terms of the deal, the firms said. The effective price of one NBS share will come to about 6,300 yen.

Fuji TV will also buy Livedoor shares worth 44 billion yen to be issued by the Internet portal operator through a third-party allotment scheme on May 23, and in the end will hold a share of 12.75 percent. As a result, Fuji TV will become Livedoor’s second-largest shareholder.

“We are satisfied that we were able to reach a final agreement,” Fuji TV Chairman Hisashi Hieda told a joint news conference later in the day.

Livedoor President Takafumi Horie said: “I am sorry that we have caused a lot of turmoil in the past two months. But we are very happy that we are now announcing the capital and business tieup, which was our goal from the beginning.”

Hieda had been refusing to even sit down with Horie until recently. But the Fuji TV management was eventually driven by the firm’s ultimate priority to make NBS a fully owned subsidiary, industry observers said.

The price Fuji TV will pay to Livedoor for each NBS share will be 350 yen higher than what the TV station paid in its tender offer bid.

“We feel sorry for those who sold at 5,950 yen,” Hieda said. “But the situations are different now.”

Livedoor did not want to settle for less than 6,300 yen, which is the average market price of each NBS share it purchased.

Horie said his firm will spend the funds raised through the new share issue to Fuji TV for boosting its mainstay Internet portal site business and conducting other mergers and acquisitions.

As for a business alliance, which the Livedoor side had actively pursued, the two companies have yet to reach a full accord.

As part of Monday’s deal, Fuji TV, Livedoor and Nippon Broadcasting agreed to launch three-way talks on such an alliance, including how to integrate the Internet and broadcasting services.

Monday’s pact ends a battle that raged for more than two months after the shock announcement by Livedoor on Feb. 8 that it had obtained a chunk of Nippon Broadcasting’s shares through off-floor trading, challenging Fuji TV’s tender offer for the radio broadcaster that was going on at the time.

Fuji TV had wanted through the tender offer to solidify its position as the flagship firm of the Fujisankei Communications Group of media firms by putting NBS, also a group member, under its control.

Livedoor, led by 32-year-old entrepreneur Horie, for its part envisioned forming a business partnership with the media group by integrating the Internet with traditional media, including newspapers, TV and radio.

Softbank Investment Corp., which holds a 13.88 percent Fuji TV shares on loan from NBS, welcomed the agreement. “With this settlement, we are happy that our most feared situation was averted,” chief executive Yoshitaka Kitao said in a statement.

He said his firm will return all of Fuji TV shares to NBS as soon as possible.

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