Tokyo Broadcasting eyes restructuring

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TOKYO -- Tokyo Broadcasting System will push ahead with a proposal to restructure later this year that will make a hostile takeover more difficult, Japanese press reports said Monday.

The news came in the lead up to a revision to Japan's Broadcast Law that will permit broadcasters to have more than one television station among their group companies.

The revision goes into effect April 1 and would enable TBS to turn affiliates into full subsidiaries and theoretically increase efficiency in broadcasting across the group.

The Yomiuri Shimbun daily reported that, at a meeting of shareholders in June, TBS will propose changing its corporate structure to take advantage of the revised broadcast law.

A TBS investor relations spokesman refused comment on the report.

TBS presently has 30 member firms, including the Yokohama BayStars baseball team, whose affiliated digital satellite broadcaster, BS-i, could be a target to be made into a full TBS subsidiary.

The reported restructuring move has long been anticipated as TBS tries to fend off an ongoing takeover by Internet shopping site operator Rakuten Inc.

Rakuten, which has pursued a TBS takeover for two years, already owns close to 20% of the broadcaster's stock.

Rakuten president Hiroshi Mikitani has made no secret of his desire to increase that stake and effectively turn the broadcaster into an affiliate.

The two companies presently are involved in discussions about ways to work together, but the TBS decision to introduce measures designed to ward off unwanted overtures suggests that management is not convinced that Rakuten has dropped plans to obtain control of the company.

The revised Broadcasting Law also will limit the amount of capital investment by a single shareholder to one third of the total.
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