Softbank's Fortress offers to buy Japan's Sogo & Seibu – Nikkei

(Reuters) – Softbank-owned Fortress Investment Group has offered around 200 billion yen ($1.48 billion) to buy Japanese department store unit Sogo & Seibu from parent Seven & i Holdings, Nikkei reported on Sunday, citing sources.

Fortress has obtained the first refusal right in the acquisition of Sogo & Seibu, amid investor pressure at Seven & i to focus on its core convenience store business, Nikkei said.

Fortress Investment did not respond to a Reuters request for comment outside U.S. business hours. Seven & i could not be immediately reached.

U.S.-based investment firm ValueAct, which holds a 4.4% stake in Seven & i, had urged the Japanese retailer to sell off Sogo & Seibu, saying in February the company could more than double its share price by focusing on its convenience stores.

In April, Seven & i said it would continue reforms of its business portfolio and had hired a financial adviser to conduct a strategic review of Sogo & Seibu.

Seven & i, the parent of 7-Eleven convenience stores, is expected to hold more detailed talks with Fortress, including on employment and whether to shut some stores, according to the Nikkei report.

($1 = 135.1900 yen)

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