Ex-President’s Equity Stake in Nova Falls Sharply

Failed foreign language school Nova Corp. <4655> said Tuesday the equity stake held by its former President Nozomu Sahashi and his family in the company fell sharply in the April-September first half of fiscal 2007 for unknown reasons.

As of Sept. 30, Sahashi, founder of Nova, and an Osaka-based firm fully owned by him and his family held a combined 20.2 pct of Nova’s total voting rights, down sharply from 72.6 pct as of March 31.

Although the change was sudden and big, no details of its background are available at the moment, Nova said in a press release.

Despite the sharp ownership decline, Sahashi was the biggest shareholder in Nova as of Sept. 30 with a stake of 16.27 pct in terms of voting rights, Nova said. The Sahashi family-owned firm ranked third with a 3.75 pct stake.

As of March 31, Sahashi was the second biggest shareholder with a 36.11 pct stake and the family company was the top owner with a 36.58 pct interest.

Last week, Nova dismissed Sahashi from the presidential post and filed for court protection from creditors, leaving liabilities of about 43.9 billion yen. The action came after Nova, the industry leader, suffered a sharp drop in the number of students chiefly due to a series of disputes over fees for canceled lessons and a business suspension imposed by the government.

Nova received a six-month partial business suspension order in June as a penalty for giving false explanations on its lessons to prospective students.