Marubeni Corporation has reached an agreement with the Industrial Revitalisation Corporation of Japan (IRCJ) and Advantage Partners to acquire all 66,489,000 deferred shares with voting rights of Japanese retail group Daiei held by the IRCJ, for a transfer price of JPY69.8bn (US$609m).

Following completion of the transfer, Marubeni will hold 44.6% the voting rights in Daiei and become the company's largest shareholder. Completion of the deal would proceed "promptly", Marubeni said.

The acquisition price was determined after consultation and negotiation with the IRCJ after taking the difference in the type of shares and the lack of liquidity into account, Marubeni said. Daiei will retain its stock exchange listing even after Marubeni becomes its largest shareholder.

Daiei first requested help from the IRCJ in October 2004, following pressure from creditors. Since being selected as Daiei's business sponsor in March 2005, Marubeni has helped develop a business recovery plan for the retailer in cooperation with the IRCJ and Advantage Partners.

Marubeni said the recovery plan was well on the way to achieving its objectives thanks to initiatives such as the refurbishment of stores, financial restructuring, the suspension of non-core businesses and the closure of unprofitable stores.

"We have determined that the business base of Daiei can be strengthened with Marubeni taking the lead in management and by promoting the rapid enhancement of business capabilities and the improvement of financial standing," the company said. "Radical reform has progressed at Daiei through the basic business policies of strengthening the food business, withdrawing from certain categories, and inviting influential tenants."