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Hokuetsu Paper Mills Ltd., which earlier this year fended off a takeover bid by Oji Paper Co., said Monday its group net profit for the first half of fiscal 2006 fell 26.7 percent to 1.86 billion yen mainly on large attorney fees to win the battle.

In a consolidated earnings report for the April-September period, Hokuetsu Paper said it had to book a one-off expense of 622 million yen to counteract the unsolicited Oji bid, including legal fees.

The papermaker’s pretax profit tumbled 25.3 percent to 4.06 billion yen despite a 0.4 percent sales gain to 77.78 billion yen.

The company, defying a net profit decline, said it will still pay a full-year dividend of 12 yen per share, including a midterm payout of 6 yen. Both amounts are identical to the previous business year’s dividends.

Hokuetsu noted that increases in the price of crude oil and other material costs were another key drag on profitability.

Nippon Paper Group Inc., which helped Hokuetsu overcome the Oji bid by purchasing a large number of shares, said Monday its group pretax profit in the fiscal first half fell 35.4 percent to 20.15 billion yen on sales of 581.14 billion yen, up 0.5 percent, because of higher crude oil and other materials prices.

However, Nippon Paper scored a 98.3 percent gain in profit to 6.89 billion yen, due in part to steep falls in losses under asset-impairment accounting.

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