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Marubeni Corp. said Friday it will acquire the Industrial Revitalization Corp. of Japan’s entire stake in struggling retailer Daiei Inc. for 69.8 billion yen.

The trading firm will replace IRCJ, a government-backed turnaround body, as Daiei’s biggest shareholder, with a 44.6 percent stake in terms of voting rights.

Marubeni executives approved the acquisition plan earlier in the day at a board meeting, judging that the retailer’s restructuring progress is effectively reducing the number of employees and money-losing outlets, as well as improving operations related to groceries and coming up with new business models.

IRCJ is expected to complete its support for Daiei at the end of this year, one year ahead of schedule, paving the way for the agency to be disbanded next spring.

Since December 2004, Daiei has been undergoing rehabilitation with IRCJ help. Marubeni was picked by IRCJ last year as a sponsor for Daiei.

By downsizing the number of employees and outlets, Daiei posted an operating profit in the March-May first quarter of its 2006 business year.

Daiei is the last major company subjected to rehabilitation under IRCJ’s auspices.

The agency took over 160 billion yen in debts owed by Daiei. Selling the loan claims to financial institutions will be IRCJ’s final task in supporting Daiei.

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