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Livedoor (株式会社ライブドア Kabushiki-gaisha raibudoa ?) is an Internet service provider based in Tokyo, Japan, that runs a web portal and numerous other businesses. The company was founded and led in its first 10 years by Takafumi Horie, known as "Horiemon" in Japan. Employing over 1,000 people, it had grown into one of Japan's premier Internet businesses as well as one of the country's most controversial enterprises because of its frequent use of acquisitions and stock swap mergers to achieve growth.

Contents

History

Livedoor started in 1995 as Livin' on the Edge, a web consultancy run by Horie and a group of student friends[1] and was officially founded as Livin' On the EDGE Inc. in April 1996, in Minato, Tokyo[2]. In 1997, it was renamed Livin' On the EDGE Co., Ltd. Though initially a limited company (yugen kaisha), Livin' On the Edge was reorganized into a joint-stock company (kabushiki kaisha) in July 1997 and went public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's Mothers market in April 2000. In November 2002, Livin' on the Edge acquired the free Internet services business of Livedoor Corp., which had gone bankrupt. On the Edge changed its name to Edge Co., Ltd. in April 2003[3], then adopted the name of the ISP business it had acquired from Livedoor Corp., by renaming itself livedoor Co. Ltd. (Livedoor)[4], in February 2004. This was followed by a 1:100 stock split.

In March 2004, livedoor moved to acquire the Kintetsu Buffaloes, a Japanese baseball team, but later withdrew its offer and, in September 2004, founded its own team (named livedoor baseball) and applied for admittance to Japan's professional baseball organization. The team's home ground was to be in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, but livedoor lost the competition to be the city's home team to Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce company.

Livedoor has made a series of acquisitions in the U.S. including MailCreations in Miami, Florida, in June 2004, which functions as the company's U.S. headquarters. Livedoor also entered the search and contextual advertising space in America in November 2005.

The TSE delisted livedoor as of April 14, 2006, in the wake of a scandal involving securities-law violations.[5][6]

Fraud allegations

The media reported allegations of securities fraud (including window dressing and share-price manipulation) on January 17, 2006, prompting panic selling on the Tokyo Stock Exchange as investors tried to unload Livedoor shares when some brokers announced they would no longer allow use of the issue for margin trading. Volume was so heavy that it threatened to overload the TSE's computer system, prompting a halt in trading for the entire market—the first time this has ever occurred.

The scandal broke on January 16, 2006, when Tokyo prosecutors raided several Livedoor locations, Horie's home, and the homes of other Livedoor and subsidiary executives on suspicions of securities law violations. The raids spooked investors and sent shares plunging on January 17 and 18 as a widening criminal investigation sparked big tech-stock selloffs. The TSE ordered Livedoor to provide an answer to the allegations but was unsatisfied with the company's initial report after a hasty internal investigation. It told the company to come up with a more detailed report and threatened to delist Livedoor if illegalities were proven.

On January 18, 2006, Hideaki Noguchi, an executive of H.S. Securities, a firm raided by prosecutors earlier in the week in connection with Livedoor, was found dead in an Okinawa hotel room after what the authorities are labeling a suicide. [7]

The authorities called in several Livedoor and subsidiary executives for questioning over several days, and Horie himself on January 23. After several hours of questioning Horie, investigators felt they had learned enough to press charges and petitioned for four arrest warrants, which were granted. Horie, Livedoor's chief financial officer, and the presidents of two subsidiaries were arrested mid-evening for securities and accounting fraud.[8][9]

On March 13, 2006, Japan's Securities Commission filed a criminal complaint against five ex-executives of the company.[10]

On April 14, 2006, Livedoor was delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.[11]

Japan later passed a law, similar to Sarbanes Oxley, nicknamed J-SOX.

On March 16, 2007, Livedoor's founder was sentenced to 2.5 years in jail. The company is scheduled to go public in the next 6 to 12 months.

On March 20, 2007, Livedoor's four executives were sentenced to jail.

Fuji Television is currently suing the company for approximately 30 billion yen in damages, however, insiders in the Japanese legal community believe that Fuji has no case because equity investments inherently have risk of loss.

There were rumors that LiveDoor was speaking with several investment bankers about an $2 billion initial public offering in 2008. Several internet portals expressed interest in participating.

After Microsoft's failed bid to acquire Yahoo!, Microsoft is rumored to be looking at acquiring LiveDoor to strengthen its position against Yahoo! Japan. Acquiring LiveDoor would give Microsoft a strong starting position in the Japanese search market.

Offices

Livedoor's registered headquarters is located at 16-9, Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo, 160-0021, Japan, but its principal corporate offices are on the 38th floor of the prestigious Roppongi Hills Mori Tower at 10-1, Roppongi 6-chome, Minato, Tokyo, 106-6138, Japan.

See also

External links

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