Beleaguered Japanese media and internet giant Livedoor on Tuesday fired its founder-president Takafumi Horie (33) following his arrest Monday [WAMN: 24-Jan-06]. He was detained along with three other senior Livedoor executives and charged with misleading stockholders and breaking securities laws.

Horie is replaced as president by Kozo Hiramatsu (60), previously head of the group's Yayoi unit.

Tokyo-headquartered Livedoor seemingly isn't short of ready money - or wasn't in September when it reported around ¥100 billion ($872m; €710.4m; £488.8m) in cash. In its last fiscal year the company earned ¥15.5bn.

At the Tokyo stock market's close on Tuesday, Livedoor shares had plunged 22% amid record trading, clearing a backlog of orders that triggered a shutdown of the exchange last week [WAMN: 19-Jan-06].

Opines Katsuyuki Fujii, a trader at Yamamaru Securities: "There is a high chance that the units with future potential will be sold off. Livedoor probably has abundant cash even if its market value has tumbled."

But Livedoor director Fumito Kumagai remains in Churchillian mode, insisting: "We're not open for sale. We want to continue utilizing our valuable assets and staff. Our capital looks stable."

The fallen Icarus, founded in 1997, has forty-four group companies and employs around 2,500 staff. In addition to its internet portal, computer software and online advertising businesses, over 50% of its revenues accrue from online broking and ecommerce

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff