KDDI to jointly operate Lawson stores with Mitsubishi Corp.

A planned acquisition in Japan's convenience store industry looks set to reshape the sector, adding banking, insurance and other services to thousands of outlets.

Telecom giant KDDI says it plans a public tender offer to buy a 50-percent stake in the Lawson convenience chain. The deal would see KDDI operating the outlets with Lawson's current parent Mitsubishi Corporation and bringing a raft of new services to the stores.

KDDI President and CEO Takahashi Makoto said, "Convenience stores play critical roles in Japan's social infrastructure. By applying digital and communication technologies we can create convenience stores of the future."

Lawson President and CEO Takemasu Sadanobu said, "With our partners we can share visions of the future of the industry and tap the benefits of our mutual strengths."

Mitsubishi Corporation President and CEO Nakanishi Katsuya said, "We want to offer new value and benefits to consumers by joining hands with business partners that have additional expertise and business vision."

KDDI on Tuesday said the three companies have agreed on a capital and business alliance. KDDI's tender offer is expected to go ahead in April and is valued at more than 490 billion yen, or about 3.3 billion dollars.

KDDI currently has a 2.1-percent stake in Lawson, while Mitsubishi holds more than 50 percent.

The deal is scheduled to be finalized in September. Completion will result in Lawson stock being delisted and KDDI and Mitsubishi gaining equal 50 percent stakes.

The agreement will bring new cooperation between Lawson's convenience stores and KDDI's network of mobile-phone stores. Both firms will offer each other's products, including banking and insurance services.

The companies plan to take advantage of KDDI's digital technology to improve the efficiency of Lawson's outlets.

This comes as the convenience store industry as a whole faces business challenges from a shrinking population and the popularity of e-commerce.