TRUCK maker Isuzu Motor Co and trading firm Itochu Corp of Japan are to buy 40.02 million legal-persons shares in Beijing Light Bus, giving them a combined 25 per cent holding in the Shanghai-listed company. Legal-persons shares are owned by institutions or government bodies and cannot be traded on the stock exchange. An Itochu spokesman said the company would take a 10 per cent holding in the minibus maker, while Isuzu would acquire a 15 per cent interest. Both companies have said they would keep their holdings as long-term investments. 'It's not a matter of taking a capital gain, but of having a long-term view,' the spokesman said. Because legal-persons shares cannot be traded on the stock exchange, holders can only transfer the shares with the approval of the authorities. Transfers of legal-persons shares are common on the mainland as companies seek to raise funds and diversify shareholder base. Itochu said the share transfer of Beijing Light Bus had been approved. Mainland investors yesterday flocked to buy shares in Beijing Light Bus following news of the acquisition, helping the A share to close up 72.4 per cent at seven yuan, from 4.06 yuan on Tuesday. Turnover was 25.7 million shares worth 146.77 million yuan (about HK$136.64 million). No value has been given on the deal, although a company official was reported as saying the two companies had agreed to pay not less than 2.04 yuan a share for the stake, or a total of 81.6 million yuan. The latest purchase adds to the Japanese firms' participation in China's car sector. Last week, Itochu said it was taking a 20 per cent holding in Beijing Light Automobile, a light truck maker, for 1.7 billion yen (about HK$143.33 million). Beijing Light Bus and Beijing Light Automobile, which makes light trucks, are sister companies under the umbrella of Beijing Automobile Industry Corp. Isuzu's ties with Chinese car companies include a small stake in Qingling Motors and a technology agreement with Jiangling Motors, in which Ford Motor Co is to buy a substantial stake when it issues B shares in Shenzhen this month. In Tokyo, Isuzu's general manager of public relations Hideya Ikegami yesterday said the company bought the non-tradeable shares because 'we have no choice'. The Chinese Government has strict control over its domestic car industry, although attempts have been made to open it up. Mr Ikegami said Isuzu was happy to be in the Chinese market, where it expected high demand for light buses. Beijing Light Bus had 160 million shares in issue at the end of last year, 34.41 per cent of which trade as A shares on the Shanghai stock exchange.