Rakuten pursuit of TBS ongoing

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TOKYO -- Japanese Internet mall operator Rakuten Inc. still clearly has an eye on Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc. despite the broadcaster's plan to introduce a "poison pill" to fend off unwelcome advances.

One month after Rakuten increased the pressure on TBS by ending the freeze on its voting rights in the company -- of which it holds a stake of more than 19% -- Rakuten president Hiroshi Mikitani indicated Thursday that he wants to move forward with an alliance.

"We would like to patiently develop firm relations with TBS," Kyoto News quoted Mikitani as telling a general meeting of Rakuten shareholders. "Internet services are increasingly handling moving pictures, with the spread of fiber-optic networks, and may eliminate their borders with television broadcasting services."

Mikitani's comments came one day after TBS president Hiroshi Inoue called on Rakuten to release its shares in the broadcaster.

Rakuten proposed integrating the management of the two companies back in October 2005, after acquiring an initial stake in the company. The broadcaster deflected the initial approach, with the two agreeing that Rakuten would put its stake in the company into trust and freeze its voting rights.

Concerned that the Internet firm is planning a takeover, TBS will introduce a plan at its June general shareholders' meeting that will enable the company to issue equity warrants to existing shareholders to dilute any voting rights acquired by an unwelcome investor.
Neither company would comment on the matter.
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