Business

Livedoor chief says firm could be sold

by Taiga Uranaka

Backpedaling from his previous position, Livedoor Co. President Kozo Hiramatsu said Monday the firm is preparing for any eventuality, including possibly selling itself to a willing buyer.

The comment, made at a news conference following the indictment of the company, along with founder Takafumi Horie and other former executives on charges of violating the Securities and Exchange Law, marked a stark change from his stance three weeks ago, when he said selling the scandal-hit firm was not an option.

“I did not think about it when I assumed (the top post), but three weeks have passed, and we are preparing for any situation,” he said when asked about the possibility of a selloff.

Livedoor shares fell to another listing-to-date low on Monday, closing at 61 yen.

As for its group firms, Hiramatsu also hinted at a policy change. While saying he had not reached any conclusions yet, he said he would respond to group companies that seek to sever ties with the tainted parent by Feb. 24.

He said he was keenly aware of the dire situation faced by the group firms in the wake of the scandal and that he hoped to reach a conclusion beneficial to both these firms and to Livedoor.

He stressed the need for a clean break with the former management, saying he is implanting a strict culture of legal compliance in the company. Yet question marks remain.

Absent from the news conference was Representative Director Fumito Kumagai, who is the official head of the company. Hiramatsu said Kumagai was being questioned by prosecutors.

In a related development, the nation’s most powerful business lobby, the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), said Monday afternoon that Livedoor will refrain from taking part in any of the organization’s activities for the time being.

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