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Fri, Mar 04, 2005 - Page 12 News List

Web entrepreneur at center of takeover storm says Japan's rules need revamp

AP , TOKYO

The Internet entrepreneur at the center of a takeover fight that has riveted Japan said yesterday he welcomed recent talk of regulating acquisitions -- a debate set off by his own bid.

Takafumi Horie, president of Internet services company Livedoor Co Ltd, is defying the country's powerful old-guard media by trying to take over radio operator Nippon Broadcasting System Inc, which would also give him managerial influence over a major TV network, Fuji Television Network Inc.

He said Japan's takeover rules are too poorly defined -- and that ensuring more fairness would protect his own interests as well. Livedoor's growth in the past several years has come largely from acquisitions.

Hostile takeovers are still relatively rare in Japan. Fears are growing about cocky young Internet businessmen like Horie, 32, rocking the boat, and foreign investors taking over Japanese companies. Some Japanese politicians have expressed concern about Horie's bid, and have called for restrictions on mergers.

"The Japanese stock market is like a lamb or rabbit in a pack of wolves. It is very dangerous," Horie said of the current rules.

"Unless someone acts, things don't get corrected," he told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo.

Fuji TV, at the center of a media empire, includes a film studio, recording company, publisher and newspaper.

Livedoor now owns about 40 percent of Nippon Broadcasting, the top shareholder in Fuji TV. Horie has said he wants to buy more shares.

Fuji TV executives have repeatedly refused to talk with him, saying an alliance with Livedoor is out of the question.

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