Thu, Dec 02, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Softbank about to buy the Daiei Hawks


Three-time Japan Series champion Daiei Hawks will be sold by troubled retailer Daiei Inc to Japanese Internet service provider Softbank Corp for ?5 billion (US$48.5 million), becoming the second Net company to buy into Japan's professional baseball league this year.

Tokyo-based Softbank's announcement Tuesday follows Japanese online shopping mall Rakuten Inc.'s decision earlier this month to form a new Pacific League ballclub next season -- the first in a half century. Softbank said it would purchase 14.432 million shares, or about a 98 percent stake of the Daiei Hawks, based in Fukuoka.

Tadashi Nakauchi, the son of Daiei's founder and former chairman Isao Nakauchi, will hold onto the remaining 2 percent stake, Daiei spokeswoman Kumiko Takahashi said.

"I'd like to create a team that is clean, fair and strong and loved by everyone," Softbank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son told reporters.

Begun in 1938, the franchise adopted the name of the Nankai Hawks in 1947, a year after winning Japan's professional championship as Kinki Great Ring. When Japan's two-league system formed in 1950, the Hawks joined the Pacific League and won the first of their 13 league pennants in 1951, and its first Japan Series title in 1959.

The club was sold to Daiei prior to the 1989 season and was moved from Osaka to Fukuoka where it adopted its new identity. The city's name was dropped at the start of the 2001 season.

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