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Trading house Mitsui & Co. said Thursday it has bought shares in supermarket chain Ito-Yokado Co. and affiliated convenience store chain Seven-Eleven Japan Co. for about 45 billion yen to enhance cooperation with the Ito-Yokado group.

Mitsui said it will buy more shares in a bid to become one of the 10 largest shareholders in Seven & I Holdings Co., which will be created in September to oversee Ito-Yokado group companies.

The trading house began to buy shares in the two firms last April and now holds 0.65 percent of Ito-Yokado shares and 1.39 percent of Seven-Eleven Japan shares, it said.

These shareholdings will amount to a 1.09 percent stake in the holding company, Mitsui said.

Mitsui and Ito-Yokado have been cooperating in development and procurement of goods since April 2001.

Other major Japanese trading houses have also moved to deepen relations with retailers.

Marubeni Corp. has expanded investment in Tobu Store Co. to become the largest shareholder of the supermarket chain.

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