Livedoor is believed to have acquired a majority stake in Nippon Broadcasting System, raising the likelihood that it will succeed in pulling off Japan's most fiercely contested and controversial takeover bid.

Livedoor said on Wednesday it could not comment for legal reasons. However, it is understood to have raised its stake in NBS to more than 50 per cent, in terms of voting rights, giving it the right to re-appoint the directors of the radio broadcaster.

All 19 of NBS' directors face the end of their term in June. Livedoor is expected to appoint its president as a director and to reshuffle the NBS board.

The latest development in the hotly contested battle for control of NBS raises the stakes for Fuji TV, Japan's largest TV broadcaster in which NBS has a 22.5 per cent stake.

Livedoor is expected to use NBS' stake in Fuji TV and other assets to acquire further shares in the TV broadcaster.

Fuji TV has acquired 36.47 per cent in NBS and is trying to thwart Livedoor's bid to take control.

Fuji TV has pledged not to buy further shares on the market out of consideration for shareholders who participated in its tender offer, which closed this month and was priced at a substantial discount to the market price.

If Livedoor consolidates its hold over NBS, the battleground is likely to move to Fuji TV, which is thought to be Livedoor's real target.

Hisashi Hieda, Fuji TV chairman, indicated yesterday that the group was considering other measures to undermine Livedoor's takeover attempt.

Mr Hieda has refused to meet Takafumi Horie, Livedoor president, who has been calling for talks between the two groups to see whether they might be able to negotiate an alliance.

However, he appeared to soften his stance after the Tokyo District Court last week filed an injunction against an attempt by NBS to issue share warrants to Fuji TV in a bid to dilute Livedoor's stake. If Livedoor gains a majority in NBS, Mr Hieda could ease his stance further.

On Wednesday, the court dismissed NBS' appeal against its original verdict, pointing out that the share warrants were aimed at diluting one particular shareholder, which is seeking to take control.

The court said it was unfair for NBS to decide to issue the warrants on the basis of a board vote alone.

The court also said it was not clear that NBS would suffer irreparable damage if it came under Livedoor control. NBS said it would take the issue to the Tokyo High Court.

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