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Marubeni Corp. is considering joining Toshiba Corp.’s $5.4 billion acquisition of Westinghouse Electric Co. of the U.S., company officials said Wednesday.

The major trading house’s move came after Toshiba signed an agreement with Westinghouse’s parent, British Nuclear Fuels PLC, in February to acquire the nuclear power titan.

If it decides to join the buyout, Marubeni is likely to funnel 100 billion yen into the deal, industry sources said.

Toshiba has said it will acquire a 51 percent interest in Westinghouse and seek partners to take the remainder, and five to six companies, including some from the U.S., have shown and interest in becoming shareholders.

Although Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co. appears willing to join the buyout, a public relations official said it has made no decision yet.

Meanwhile, an official of Mitsui & Co., another trading house that was once seen considering investing in the U.S. company, said the firm will not join the acquisition.

Record high profit

Trading house Marubeni Corp. said Wednesday its group net profit in the 2005 business year climbed 78.9 percent from the previous year to a record 73.80 billion yen.

The company’s sales came in at 8.69 trillion yen, a jump of 9.5 percent.

Per-share profit in the year that ended on March 31 jumped to 48.34 yen from 26.61 yen the previous year.

Its consolidated pretax profit for the year based on U.S. accounting standards rose 64.7 percent to 101.45 billion yen.

Marubeni said it will increase its dividend for the year to 7 yen per share from 4 yen the previous year.

For the year ending next March, it said it expects 100 billion yen in group net profit.