National

Livedoor stock still falls in curtailed trade

by Taiga Uranaka

Investors were able to execute transactions of Livedoor Co. shares during a brief window Wednesday for the first time since prosecutors raided the firm last week. The stock ended at 137 yen, down 39 yen, or 22 percent, from Tuesday.

Its turnover exceeded 420 million shares, or about 97 percent of the total for the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s Mothers market hosting emerging companies’ stocks.

The movement came after Livedoor announced a new management team Tuesday night to get a fresh start following the arrest of founder Takafumi Horie.

Livedoor shares had fallen to the daily limit every session since Jan. 16, with sell orders swamping buy orders.

Under such circumstances, normal trading is halted and only a small number of sell orders are executed to match the far fewer buy orders.

Trading in Livedoor began at 1:53 p.m., when sell orders matched buy orders at 155 yen, 21 yen down from the previous day.

The day’s volume represented 40 percent of its total outstanding shares.

Trading in Livedoor was limited Wednesday to 90 minutes in the afternoon to prevent a system overload. Later in the day, the TSE announced it would shorten the period even more beginning Thursday, allowing trading only from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

There was speculation buy orders might match sell orders sometime this week, as the share price had fallen under the company’s per-share net asset value of 185 yen.

Fuji may keep stake Fuji Television Network Inc. Chairman Hisashi Hieda said Wednesday the broadcaster might not sell its shareholdings in Internet partner Livedoor Co. despite the arrest of founder Takafumi Horie earlier in the week.

“It is possible to keep the shares stably or it may go the other way around,” Hieda told reporters.

Fuji TV claimed Tuesday that it is free to sell the shares because its agreement with Livedoor not to sell them to a third party without the Internet firm’s consent until the end of September 2007 was voided by Livedoor chief Horie’s resignation from the presidency the same day.

Fuji TV, which is Livedoor’s second-biggest shareholder, will decide what to do with the shares after studying the company’s future business policies and new management team, set up Tuesday following the arrests Monday of Horie and his top executives over alleged securities exchange law violations.

Last year, Fuji TV spent 44 billion yen to obtain a stake of 133.74 million shares in Livedoor — 12.75 percent of its outstanding shares — to settle the takeover battle between the two firms for control of radio firm Nippon Broadcasting System Inc.

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