September 30, 2009

Toy "R" Us To Delist Ailing Japan Unit

Toy "R" Us - Japan Ltd announced that an investment company affiliated with its US parent will launch a tender offer for its stock. The Japanese firm will be delisted from the Jasdaq Securities Exchange upon the successful conclusion of the deal. The investment company seeks to acquire all outstanding stock by offering 597 yen per share, a sizeable premium over the current stock price of 371 yen. The Japanese unit is struggling amid weak consumer spending. The US parent aims to boost its operating efficiency under private ownership.

September 29, 2009

Davinci's Real Estate Fund Defaults

Davinci Holding KK, a Tokyo-based real estate operator, announced that a special-purpose company under its umbrella has defaulted on loans. The loans were non-recourse ones backed by the Pacific Century Place, a property in Tokyo's Marunouchi district, that Davinci's real estate fund acquired in 2006 for about 200 billion yen. The fund met with lenders ahead of last Friday's repayment deadline to discuss an extension, but the parties were unable to reach agreement.

September 28, 2009

Aiful To Enter ADR Turnaround Process

Aiful Corp., the nation's second biggest consumer lender, announced that it would ask its creditors to extend their repayment deadlines for loans worth about 300 billion yen under an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) deal, which would be mediated by a third party as part of a privately orchestrated workout plan. The ailing consumer finance company also plans to halve its workforce from 4,600 to 2,000 full-time positions on a consolidated basis in about a year. Japanese non-bank lenders continues to struggle with tighter regulations and shrinking demand.

September 25, 2009

Willcom To Enter ADR Turnaround Process

Willcom Inc., a personal handyphone service provider, announced that it will enter an alternative dispute resolution process (ADR) in part to ask its creditors to extend repayment dealines on outstanding debt of about 100 billion yen. Willcom is 60%-owned by major US investment fund Carlyle Group.

September 24, 2009

Toyota To Sell Securities Unit To Other Broker

Toyota Motor Corp. (Toyota) has decided to sell Toyota Financial Services Securities, its brokerage unit to Tokai Tokyo Holdings Inc. as part of efforts to consolidate resources into automobile operations, according to Nikkei. Toyota established its own brokerage unit in 2000, offering services mainly to individuals.

September 18, 2009

Hatoyama Enjoys 75% Approval Rating: Nikkei Poll

The Hatoyama new cabinet's approval rating stands at 75%, the second-highest approval rating ever for an incoming government, according to a survey conducted by Nikkei and TV Tokyo Corp. The all-time high was the 80% of Junichiro Koizumi's government, which took power in April 2001. The strong support indicates the public's high expectations for the new government's drive to take policymaking power away from bureaucrats.

September 17, 2009

70% of Shoppers For Store-Brand Products

According to a Nikkei Online survey, 67% of consumers intend to turn to more private-label products to save money. Aeon Co's Topvalu brand was the most popular store brand. It was trailed by the Seven Premium brand offered by Seven & i Holding Co. As store-brand labels grow more popular, consumers are likely to demand added value in addition to low prices.

September 16, 2009

JAL to Cut 29 Domestic Flight, Ax 6,800 jobs

Japan Air Lines Corp(JAL) plans to eliminate 29 domestic flight and slash 6,800 jobs over three years, according to Nikkei. Additionally, the struggling airline plans to cut 21 international flights. JAL is also slated to sell shareholdings in JALway Co. and other subsidiaries, trim benefit payouts on corporate pensions. Savaged by the global economic downturn and the A/H1N1 influenza epidemic, JAL's earnings have suffered.

September 15, 2009

Delta, American Mulling Over JAL Investment

US carrier Delta Airlines and American Airlines are said to be considering investing in Japan Airline (JAL), Asia's largest airline by revenue. JAL lost about $1 billion last quarter and is under growing pressure to raise money and slash costs. Delta and American are aiming to secure partnership ties and boost revenue from Asia.

September 14, 2009

Yoshimoto Approves Tender Offer From Investment Firm

Yoshimoto Kogyo Co (Yoshimoto)., one of the major talent agencies, announced that it approved a tender offer launched by Quantum Entertainment Co. representing a consortium of about 20 firms. Quantum Entertainment is a unit of Quantum leaps Co. led by former Sony chairman Nobuyuki Idei. Its shareholders are Fuji Media Holdings Inc., Nippon Television Network Corp and 3 other private broadcasters, Dentsu Inc. and Softbank etc. The total acquisition cost will be about 50 billion yen. Yoshimoto will be delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the Osaka Stock Exchange.

September 11, 2009

Daiwa To Buy Sumitomo's Stake in Joint Venture

Daiwa Securities Group Inc., Japan's second-largest brokerage, said it will buy a 40% stake in Daiwa SMBC, an investment banking joint venture held by its partner Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) for 200 billion JPY ($2.2 billion USD), making the venture 100% owned by the end of December. Since SMFG merged with Nikko Cordial Securities, Daiwa's biggest competitor from Citigroup in May, Daiwa Securites and SMFG couldn't help going separate ways.

September 10, 2009

New City's Lone Star Plan Killed By 2nd Creditor Rejection

New City Residence Investment Corporation (NCRI) announced that the plan to restructure under the umbrella of US investment fund Lone Star was turned down again by major debt holders at the creditors' meeting. Terminating the sponsor agreement with Lone Star Real Estate Fund(US) LP, the failed REIT is to look for a new investor and avoid liquidation. The Daiwa House Industry Co. has shown strong interest in obtaining it.

September 09, 2009

CSK Holdings To Boost Capital From ACA

CSK Holding Corp., a information service company, announced that it will issue about 16 billion yen in preferred shares and around 6 billion yen in equity warrants to Ant Corporate Advisory (ACA) Inc., a Tokyo-based investment firm affiliated with Sumitomo Corp. CSK will also issue 30 billion yen in preferred shares to four partner banks-- Sumitomo Trust & Banking Co., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Mizuho Corporate Bank -- under a debt-for-equity arrangement. In addition, the banks will roll over about 50 billion yen in outstanding short-term debts by converting them into longer-term debts. Those capital-enhanced steps will be implemented on Sep. 30 following approval at an extraordinary shareholders meeting.

September 08, 2009

Nikko Principal Restarts BellSystem24 Sale (2)

Nikko Principal Investment Japan Ltd., a private-equity unit of Citigroup Inc. has narrowed its list of potential buyers for Bellsystem24 Inc to three overseas investment funds, according to Nikkei. US fund Bain Capital LLC, British fund Permira Advisors Ltd. and CVC Capital Partners, passed the first round of bidding, which ended Sep 1. Bellsystem24 logged revenue of 115.7 billion yen ($1.15 billion USD) and an operating profit of 13.7 billion yen ($137 million) for the fiscal year ended Feb 28. The acquisition price is expected to exceed 150 billion yen ($1.5 billion USD).

September 07, 2009

Nikko Principal Restarts BellSystem 24 Sale

Nikko Principal Investment Japan Ltd., a private-equity unit of Citigroup, has restarted efforts to sell Bellsystem 24, the country's largest call center company, with the first round of bidding due to Sep. 1, according to Nikkei. It is expected to be worth around $1.5 billion. Bidders are said to be KKR, Permira, Blackstone, TPG, Bain, CVC, Advantage Partners, Unison Capital and Itochu Corp.

September 04, 2009

Dainippon Sumitomo Launches TOB for Sepracor

Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma Co(DSP)., Japan's 7th largest pharmaceutical company by sales, and Sepracor Inc, the Nasdaq-listed company, agreed that DSP intends to acquire all of the shares of Sepracor through a tender offer for $2.6 billion. DSP will pay $28 for each of Sepracor shares, representing a 28% premium to its closing price on Sep 1. The Osaka-based drug maker gains a US sales force and experimental treatments in the world's biggest drug market.

September 03, 2009

Marunouchi Capital Became Top Shareholder of Home Center Firm

Marunouchi Capital, a Mitsubishi Corp’s affiliated investment fund will acquire a 33.4% stake in Joyful Honda Co., a Kanto-based home center operator, according to Nikkei. The fund is to pay about 20 billion yen for new issues, becoming the principal shareholder with the aim of its IPO in 2013 or later. Joyful Honda runs 14 home centers where sales are roughly 145 billon yen and net profit is 6.3 billion yen. For Marunochi capital, this is the second investment following the acquisition of a 15% interest in Tomy Co. a major toymaker in May.

September 02, 2009

CVC Gave Up Skylark Shares

CVC Capital Partners, a UK investment fund, is no longer the second biggest shareholder of Skylark Co., a major family restaurant chain operator, after CVC failed to pay back a loan owed to Chuo Mitsui Capital Co(CMC). In 2006 CVC invested roughly 60 billion yen, some of which was borrowed from CMC when a management buyout for the the family restaurant operator was launched. Nomura Principal Finance Co., a Nomura Holding investment unit, owns a 77.7% stake. CVC was said to hold a 20.9% stake. Skylark has posted losses for three consecutive years.

September 01, 2009

Housing Starts Fall 32.1% in July

Domestic housing starts fell 32.1% year on year to 65,794 in July, making the eighth straight month of decline, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Starts for condominiums plunged 71% to 3961, which is a record-low since January 1985. The Land official mentioned it was in the process of inventories-adjustment, although they are decreasing. While consumers are cautious about big-spending due to deteriorating job and income conditions, banks are still reluctant to lend money to those developers.