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Ricoh Is in Talks to Buy IBM's Digital Printer Operations

Japanese office equipment maker Ricoh said Thursday it is in the final stages of negotiations to acquire International Business Machines' digital printer business operations in an effort
to tap into growing corporate demand.

The deal highlights how Japanese companies are increasingly seeking foreign acquisitions as a new source of growth. Last year, Nippon Sheet Glass acquired Pilkington of the U.K. in a deal to create the world's largest sheet glass maker and Toshiba purchased Westinghouse Electric to strengthen its nuclear power business.

"We are in the final stage of talks" to buy digital printer business operations from IBM, a Ricoh spokesman said, but declined to elaborate.

The Nikkei said Thursday that the move would catapult the Japanese firm to the top of the world market for business printers.

The acquisition, Ricoh's largest ever at an estimated $700 million, or about 85 billion yen, is aimed at tapping growing corporate demand for printers that can receive data directly from computers and churn out large volumes of documents, the paper said. The deal is likely to be financed mainly with Ricoh's own capital, it said.

On the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Ricoh shares have drawn buying interest on hopes for profit growth from the purchase. The issue was up 3.9% at 2,510 yen midday. A spokesman at IBM Japan said the company is still looking into the Nikkei report.