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Rakuten Inc. President Hiroshi Mikitani reiterated Thursday the Internet mall operator’s willingness to form an alliance with Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc. despite the absence of progress in their 17 months of negotiations.

“Internet services are increasingly handling moving pictures with the spread of fiber-optic networks and may eliminate their borderline with television broadcasting services,” Mikitani told a general meeting of Rakuten shareholders.

“We would like to patiently develop firm relations with TBS,” he said.

After acquiring an equity stake of more than 19 percent in TBS, Rakuten started talks with the broadcaster in November 2005 on forming an equity and business alliance, on condition Rakuten put part of its TBS shareholdings in a trust bank and freeze its voting rights on the TBS shares.

When the trust contract expired at the end of February, however, Rakuten ended the freeze in an apparent bid to increase pressure on TBS.

In response, TBS is planning to introduce a poison pill ploy at a general meeting of its shareholders in June to discourage Rakuten or any other unsolicited investor from launching a hostile takeover bid. The system would allow TBS to issue equity warrants to existing shareholders to dilute an unsolicited investor’s voting rights.

TBS President Hiroshi Inoue told a news conference Wednesday the broadcaster wants Rakuten to release the TBS shares.

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