AFTERSTEPPING down as President of Japan’s Seibu Railway in January, Terumasa Koyanagi was found dead on February 19, apparently the second senior manager to commit suicide after an accounting scandal hit the railway.

Last October Seibu admitted that it had been falsifying its financial statements for more than 50 years. It was delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange in November, after the shares had fallen from ´1 081 to ´268, although they later recovered to ´485.

Under TSE regulations, the top 10 shareholders in a listed company cannot own more than 80% of the business. Seibu is a subsidiary of the Kokudo group, with its ’top 10’ stake shown for years around the 63·7% reported in its March 2004 accounts. In October the company was forced to admit that the true figure was 88·6%.

Before the figures came to light, Kokudo had apparently approached several leading companies, including the Kirin brewery and Shiseido, in a bid to reduce its holding below the critical limit. Seibu is now looking to formalise its position by merging with Kokudo. However, Yoshiaki Murakami, whose M&A Consulting holds a 1·5% stake, is resisting the move. Early last month he indicated that he was preparing his own bid for Seibu at up to ´1 000 per share.