According to a report in the Japanese Times, Yamazaki Banking intends to make a bid for a 60% stake in struggling confectioner Tohato. Were the deal to go through, Yamazaki, with its food manufacturing subsidy Yamazaki-Nabisco, would become the second largest snack food and confectionary manufacturer in Japan, after Calbee Foods.

Under the plan, Yamazaki will purchase a 53.1% stake from investment fund Unison Capital and an additional 9.2% stake from Marubeni Corporation, the paper said without naming its source. Additionally, toy maker Namco Bandai - which holds 37.7% of Tohato - is also likely to sell part of its holding.

In March 2003, Tohato applied for protection from its creditors following devastating losses on an investment in golf courses. Unison and Bandai then acquired the confectionary business and set up a new company, under the name Tohato, with the aim of turning the business around.

A formal announcement concerning the deal is yet to be made, but it is expected early this week.