Japan’s Seven & i to sell Sogo & Seibu unit to U.S. fund Fortress

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan’s Seven & i Holdings Co Ltd said on Friday it will sell its Sogo & Seibu department store unit to U.S. fund Fortress Investment Group.

Seven & i, operator of 7-Eleven convenience stores and the Speedway gas station chain in the United States, has been under pressure from activist fund ValueAct Capital to make structural reforms and sell off assets.

The transfer price will be based on 250 billion yen ($1.77 billion) in enterprise value for Sogo & Seibu, adjusted by net debt and working capital, Seven & i said in a release.

“The sale of Seven & i Holdings’ unprofitable department stores, Sogo & Seibu, is credit positive as it will improve margins and proceeds may be used to pay down debt to help deleverage faster from its acquisition of Speedway in fiscal 2021,” Moody’s Investors Service said in a statement.

Electronics retailer Yodobashi Holdings will be a partner in the deal with Fortress, which is controlled by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.

Yodobashi is expected to set up outlets within Sogo & Seibu locations, the Nikkei newspaper reported earlier this week.

A Fortress representative declined to comment when contacted before the statement was released. Yodobashi representatives could not be immediately reached.

Seven & i shares rose 0.3% in Tokyo trading compared with a 3% jump in the benchmark Nikkei index.

($1 = 141.4100 yen)

(Reporting by Mariko Katsumura, Ritsuko Shimizu and Rocky Swift; Editing by Christopher Cushing, William Mallard and Tom Hogue)

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