SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Shaklee Corp., a nutritional goods and consumer products company, has agreed to sell its 78 percent stake in Shaklee Japan KK to Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical Co. for about $350 million.

The sale, announced on Thursday, may help Shaklee thwart a challenge from an investor group led by financier Irwin Jackobs, which disclosed late last year that it holds a 6.4 percent stake in Shaklee and may seek control of the company.

Shaklee President David Chamblerlain told the Wall Street Journal in today's editions that the sale wasn't a defensive move, although he indicated it could work in the company's favor.

Shaklee said it would realize a $180 million profit from the sale of the Japanese subsidiary and will continue to receive royalty payments under a licensing agreement.

Shaklee Japan KK had contributed 28 percent of its parent's sales and 48 percent of its profits last year.

Chamberlain said the subsidiary sold for about 31 times earnings, or double the price it could have fetched in the United States.

Following the news of the sale, Shaklee's stock jumped $4 to close at $30.75 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Yamanouchi is Japan's third-largest pharmaceutical company with sales of about $1.5 billion.