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JAPAN: Shareholder demands lawsuit over Tepco sale of NBS stock

Shareholder charges that sale of stock below market price has caused 100 million yen in damages

The Japan Times
Tuesday, March 15, 2005

An individual shareholder of Tokyo Electric Power Co. has asked Tepco to file a lawsuit against its executives for selling its shares in Nippon Broadcasting System Inc. at below market price to Fuji Television Network Inc., the shareholder's lawyer said Monday.

In a letter sent to Tepco, the investor charges that the low-priced deal was unjustifiable and damaged Tepco and its shareholders, the lawyer said.

Estimating the damage at 100 million yen, the shareholder will file a derivative lawsuit against Tepco's management unless the company complies with the request within 60 days.

The move is another twist in the high-profile corporate battle over control of Nippon Broadcasting.

Fuji TV, which has staged a tug of war with Internet company Livedoor Co. over control of the AM radio broadcaster, offered 5,950 yen per share in a public tender launched in January to acquire shares of the radio station.

But the stock price of Nippon Broadcasting, which is listed on the second section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, recently topped that. On March 7 -- the deadline for Fuji TV's tender -- it closed at 6,600 yen.

Tepco is one of the institutional shareholders of Nippon Broadcasting that opted to sell its stake to Fuji TV during the dramatic battle.

Japan's largest power company sold its 0.49 percent stake in Nippon Broadcasting to Fuji TV, citing the need to maintain good business relations with the TV broadcaster and the Fujisankei Communications Group. Nippon Broadcasting and Fuji TV are both members of Fujisankei.

The shareholder, a Tokyo resident, believes that Tepco, as a public utility, cannot justify an action favoring a specific company, according to the lawyer.

While the investor has no intention of joining hands with other shareholders at present, her view must be shared by others, including many companies that did not respond to Fuji TV's tender offer, the lawyer said.

Date Posted: 3/14/2005

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