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Business deals

Lixil to unload home improvement store unit

Japanese company narrows focus on core residential building supply business

A Super Viva home improvement store near Tokyo: Lixil will unload the retail business to focus more resources on building supplies. (Photo courtesy of Lixil)

TOKYO -- Japanese building materials supplier Lixil Group plans to sell its majority stake in an operator of home improvement stores to a domestic peer, Nikkei has learned.

Lixil intends to offload its entire 53% interest in publicly listed Lixil Viva to Arcland Sakamoto, which will conduct a tender offer anticipated to reach roughly 100 billion yen ($912 million).

Arcland is expected to launch the offer as early as this month, offering around 2,600 yen per share. Lixil Viva likely will be delisted once the tender offer is completed.

Lixil, which looks to focus resources on its more profitable core operations, is expected to reap about 60 billion yen in cash from the sale.

Lixil Group reported a 3.5% ratio of core earnings -- revenue minus the cost of sales and selling, general and administrative expenses -- to revenue in fiscal 2019, excluding an Italian subsidiary set to be sold. The margin for the distribution and retail segment, which includes Viva, came to 3.4%, less than half that of the group's mainstay plumbing segment.

Viva reported 188.5 billion yen in unconsolidated sales for fiscal 2019. It operates about 100 stores, including its Super Viva Home chain, mainly in the greater Tokyo region.

Arcland Sakamoto booked group revenue of 112.7 billion yen for the fiscal year ended in February. It has 38 stores, most in Niigata Prefecture in northwestern Japan. Arcland looks to use the Viva acquisition to boost its presence in the Tokyo area, as the company copes with Japan's shrinking population and the growing popularity of online retail squeezes the home improvement center business.

The deal marks Lixil's latest move to shed unprofitable subsidiaries since once-ousted CEO Kinya Seto returned to the post nearly a year ago.

The company said May 1 it reached a deal to sell Italian construction materials unit Permasteelisa. The poor performance of the subsidiary, which works with commercial buildings in contrast to Lixil's focus on homes, contributed to the group's net loss in fiscal 2018.

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