International News: Lawson Inc. to Acquire am/pm Japan Co.

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International News: Lawson Inc. to Acquire am/pm Japan Co.

TOKYO, Japan -- Lawson Inc., a Japanese convenience store operator, agreed to buy smaller rival am/pm Japan Co. for $149.8 million, moving it closer to the industry leader in size at a time of sagging personal consumption, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Lawson, Japan's second largest convenience store operator by outlets, said it and am/pm will continue discussions with the understanding that they are working toward a merger around spring, according to the report.

The deal for am/pm, which operates stores mainly in Tokyo, will give Lawson greater presence in the densely populated region, which still promises slow but steady growth in demand.

"Expanding our customer base in the densely populated Tokyo metropolitan area, where demand for convenience stores is high, has been our medium- and long-term business task," Lawson said in the newspaper report.

A merger would bring Lawson closer in size to industry leader Seven-Eleven Japan Co., which operates about 12,000 stores nationwide. Currently, Lawson operates approximately 9,400 stores on a group basis in Japan, while am/pm has roughty 1,100 stores, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Lawson said it will make am/pm a 100-percent owned subsidiary by buying all of its stock from parent Rex Holdings Co. Before the transaction, am/pm will issue new shares worth 5.5 billion yen to Rex to raise funds for working capital and to strengthen its capital base, the report stated.