The chairman of Fuji Television Network Inc. indicated Wednesday the network would prefer to sell its Livedoor shares to Usen Corp. or another information technology-related firm, instead of selling them to an investment fund.
“It would be in the best interests of Livedoor if we can cooperate (by selling the stocks) to a company whose business lines are similar to those of Livedoor,” Hisashi Hieda told reporters.
Hieda’s comments came in response to a statement by Usen Corp., Japan’s major cable broadcaster, released Wednesday that it is negotiating with scandal-tainted Livedoor Co. for a tieup in the Internet services business.
According to sources, Usen is also trying to purchase Fuji TV’s Livedoor shares.
The nation’s leading TV broadcaster is now the second-largest shareholder in the Internet and financial services firm after its founder Takafumi Horie, who has been charged with securities law violations.
Usen, which also has karaoke rooms, has been expanding Net-based services using fiber-optic cables in recent years. The number of people subscribing to its Gyao free-TV program broadcasting services through the Internet has already reached 8 million, although the TV service started in full swing only last year.
Usen is expected to seek to strengthen its operating base by cooperating with Livedoor, the operator of an Internet portal popular especially with young people.
The combined sales of Usen and Livedoor last year surpassed those of two giants in the Japanese Internet Industry — Rakuten Inc. and Yahoo Japan Corp.
Hieda said Wednesday the network wants to sell its 12.75 percent equity stake in Livedoor Co. as soon as possible.
“It is desirable for us not to take too much time,” he said, adding that Fuji TV might keep some Livedoor holdings.
Fuji TV plans to demand that Livedoor compensate it for losses the broadcaster has incurred on the holdings as soon as they verify the amount they have lost since acquiring the shares, he said.
Fuji TV spent 44 billion yen to buy the 12.75 percent stake in May as part of a deal to end its battle with Livedoor to control the Fuji group’s radio firm, Nippon Broadcasting System Inc.
The Livedoor stock price has fallen sharply since the company became mired in an accounting fraud scandal in mid-January and Fuji reportedly has suffered more than 30 billion yen in unrealized losses from its Livedoor shareholdings.
Livedoor is expected to face difficulties in raising new capital and hammering out a growth strategy now that the Tokyo Stock Exchange has decided to remove its shares from the Mothers market for emerging companies.
Fuji TV earlier considered supporting Livedoor’s restructuring but seems to have found only limited merits in helping the Internet firm, whose share price plunged after prosecutors raided the firm in January in the leadup to the arrest of Horie and other executives.
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