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Business

Founder of furniture seller Otsuka Kagu reducing stake

TOKYO -- The embattled founder of Otsuka Kagu is unloading part of his stake in the major Japanese furniture retailer, raising speculation over his intentions as he continues to squabble with the president, his own daughter, who ousted him from management.

     Katsuhisa Otsuka plans to sell 950,000 shares, or 27% of the 3.5 million shares he now holds, according to a report with the Kanto Local Finance Bureau. He will remain top shareholder, but his stake will shrink from 18.04% to 13.14%.

     Otsuka signed an agreement Aug. 10 with Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, which will sell the shares in the market through Dec. 30.

     The family feud surfaced in February. The father, then still chairman, clashed with daughter Kumiko Otsuka over the company's management. The younger Otsuka eventually prevailed in a proxy fight, with shareholders backing her to stay on as president.

     The share sale would generate about 1.7 billion yen ($13.5 million) at Monday's closing price of 1,780 yen. Otsuka has declined to elaborate on his reasons for selling, only saying through an attorney, "Because there is demand for funds."

     "We learned about the stock sale for the first time through the change report," an Otsuka Kagu public relations official said. "We will consider our future response after observing the situation."

     "It's good for the company that his ownership ratio will decline, but we are still anxious, as we don't know how he intends to use the 1.7 billion yen," a senior official said.

      The bickering is continuing in court. The elder Otsuka claims that a company managing assets for the family failed to redeem at maturity corporate bonds he had received in exchange for Otsuka Kagu shares.

(Nikkei)

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