Last updated: January 25, 2006 8:18 am

Livedoor founder sacked following arrests

Japan’s Livedoor on Tuesday dismissed Takafumi Horie as president and director of the internet group he founded the day after he and other senior executives were arrested on suspicion of breaking securities laws.

The move came as the Tokyo Stock Exchange came a step closer to delisting Livedoor and restricting trading in the stock, which has fallen sharply since the allegations first emerged.

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Kozo Hiramatsu, 60, was named as Livedoor’s new president. Mr Hiramatsu, who spent the bulk of his career at Sony, is the head of Yayoi, an accounting software subsidiary of Livedoor. Mr Hiramatsu will not be a board member. Fumito Kumagai, 28, replaces Mr Horie on the board. It was unclear who would be take over Mr Horie’s role as chief executive.

Livedoor said it had accepted the resignation of Ryoji Miyauchi, chief financial officer, who was arrested together with Mr Horie on suspicion of involvement in accounting fraud and market manipulation.

The appointments were aimed at stabilising the group, which has lost its core leadership following the arrests.

Livedoor shares fell another 22 per cent on Wednesday, when trading in the shares resumed for the first time since last week. More than 421m shares, or about 40 per cent of the company’s outstanding stocks, changed hands, clearing a backlog of orders first placed last week.

The shares closed at Y137, compared with Y696 nine days before, on the eve of the government raid that marked the beginning of the scandal.

To prevent a surge in trading volume from overloading its system, the TSE has limited trading in Livedoor shares to one and half hours daily since Wednesday.

It is the first time the TSE has shortened the trading of a stock, and comes a week after market nervousness over Livedoor contributing to a near-collapse in the exchange’s trading system.

The TSE has put Livedoor and subsidiary Livedoor Marketing in a category of companies requiring special supervision, moving them one step closer to delisting.

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