Marubeni Offers $811 Million to Buy NEC Mobiling in Retail Push

Marubeni Corp. offered to buy all of NEC Mobiling Ltd., a mobile phone retailer, for 80.1 billion yen ($811 million) as Japan’s biggest trader of grains and food products expands outside commodities.

Marubeni will pay 5,510 yen for each of the 14.5 million shares of NEC Mobiling, a company 51 percent controlled by electronics maker NEC Corp., the Tokyo-based trading company said today in an e-mailed statement. The offer opens on April 30 and closes on June 12, Marubeni said.

The addition will further ease Marubeni’s reliance on metals and energy resources, which made up 49 percent of the trader’s 172 billion yen in net income in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2012. Commodity prices hit a nine-month low on April 18, according to the GSCI benchmark index. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. this week cut its near-term outlook on the asset class to neutral from overweight.

NEC is reorganizing its operations to focus on corporate services and selling assets as it plans to use loans to strengthen its finances and make strategic investments. The maker of La Vie computers has cut about 10,000 jobs and sold assets including a stake in Lenovo Group Ltd. last year.

NEC Mobiling runs 237 stores and 4 service centers, mainly in Japan, and earned 5.89 billion yen in profit in the year to March 31, up 20 percent on the previous 12 months, according its website.

The outlook for Japan’s smartphone market is one of rapid growth, according to Tokyo-based MM Research Institute Ltd. The number of smartphone subscribers surged to 37 percent of all contracts as of March 31 from 3 percent three years earlier, and may jump to 58 percent in March 2015, the researcher said.

Global smartphone sales will probably rise 28 percent this year to 836 million units, according to IHS Inc.’s iSuppli.

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