UPDATE 1-Softbank's Fortress offers $1.5 bln to buy Japan's Sogo & Seibu - Nikkei

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July 3 (Reuters) - Softbank-owned Fortress Investment Group has offered around 200 billion yen ($1.48 billion) to buy Japanese department store unit Sogo & Seibu from parent Seven & i Holdings, Nikkei reported on Sunday, citing sources.

Fortress has obtained the first refusal right in the acquisition of Sogo & Seibu, amid investor pressure at Seven & i to focus on its core convenience store business, Nikkei said.

Fortress Investment did not respond to a Reuters request for comment outside U.S. business hours. Seven & i could not be immediately reached.

The U.S.-based private equity firm is also in talks with Japanese electronics and appliance retailer Yodobashi Holdings to collaborate on efforts to revamp the department stores after the acquisition, the report added.

Fortress is considering having Yodobashi run its store within the Seibu department in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, according to Nikkei.

Investment firm ValueAct, which holds a 4.4% stake in Seven & i, had urged the Japanese retailer to sell off Sogo & Seibu, saying in February the company could more than double its share price by focusing on its convenience stores.

In April, Seven & i said it would continue reforms of its business portfolio and had hired a financial adviser to conduct a strategic review of Sogo & Seibu.

Seven & i, the parent of 7-Eleven convenience stores, is expected to hold more detailed talks with Fortress, including on employment and whether to shut some stores, according to the Nikkei report.

($1 = 135.1900 yen) (Reporting by Ann Maria Shibu in Bengaluru; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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