Kenwood alliance in running for Denon maker-Nikkei

TOKYO, April 15 Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:55pm EDT

TOKYO, April 15 (Reuters) - A corporate alliance led by Japanese audio maker Kenwood Corp 6765.T is among those looking to buy D&M Holdings Inc 6735.T, the maker of Denon and Marantz audio equipment, the Nikkei business daily said on Tuesday.

D&M, whose main shareholders are U.S. buyout fund Ripplewood and Dutch electronics maker Philips Electronics (PHG.AS)(PHG.N), has a market value of about $277 million.

Kenwood is part of an alliance with U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital in the bidding, with the final round to take place as early as the middle of May, the Nikkei said.

Kenwood said in a statement that nothing had been decided. Trade in D&M on the Tokyo stock exchange was halted from before the start of trade on Tuesday.

Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last week that among others in the running for D&M were private equity firm Advantage Partners, Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity, the private equity investment arm of Merrill Lynch MER.N, and a retailer of electronic goods from outside Japan.

The Nikkei said prospective buyers included U.S. electronics retailer Best Buy Co.

U.S. buyout fund Ripplewood's holding company RHJ International SA (RHJI.BR) is auctioning its roughly 49 percent stake in D&M. The winner is expected to launch an offer for the whole company, during which Philips, the second-biggest shareholder, is expected to sell its 12 percent stake, the sources had said. (Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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