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Sogo chairman asked to turn over more personal assets.

TOKYO, July 4 Kyodo

Troubled department store operator Sogo Co. has asked its former chairman to hand over more of his personal assets to make reparations for Sogo's financial woes, Sogo officials said Tuesday.

Sogo President Kyoichi Yamada made the request in a letter sent Monday to Hiroo Mizushima, the former Sogo chairman, the officials said.

Mizushima has not yet replied, but Sogo will try to confirm the former chairman's intentions as soon as possible, the officials said.

Mizushima has already handed over his shares in Sogo and its group companies. The value of the assets is not immediately known.

Mizushima was responsible for expanding Sogo's store network in Japan and overseas after becoming president in 1962. Under Mizushima's management, Sogo put up real estate as collateral for huge bank loans to finance his business strategy.

The move left Sogo and creditor banks in trouble when real estate prices plunged with the burst of the asset-inflated ''bubble'' economy in the early 1990s.

The Sogo group now owes 1.7 trillion yen, and has asked 73 creditor banks to waive approximately 632 billion yen of the total.

The government-backed Deposit Insurance Corp. will forgive 97 billion yen of the 200 billion yen in loans to Sogo that it will buy from Shinsei Bank.

Among the conditions DIC set for forgiving the debt was for Mizushima to hand over more of his personal assets.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Jul 10, 2000
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