Shareholders of Japan's Fujitec oust three directors in rare activist win

Shareholders of Japan's Fujitec oust three directors in rare activist win

Tokyo, Japan. Image by Philippsa from Pixabay.

Investors in Japanese elevator maker Fujitec Co Ltd voted on Friday to oust three of five incumbent outside directors, activist fund Oasis Management said, claiming the kind of win that’s still rare for shareholder activism in Japan.

The three rejected incumbents in the vote, taken at an emergency general shareholders’ meeting, included the chairman of the board. Investors also elected four of six new directors nominated by Oasis, Fujitec’s top shareholder with a 17% stake.

Though short of giving the fund control of the board, the victory is a departure for Japan, where activists have had little success to date in convincing shareholders to back proposals to fire incumbent executives.

“As Fujitec’s largest shareholder, Oasis is committed to engaging constructively with the newly constructed board,” the fund said in a statement after the vote.

Fujitec, a 75-year-old company founded by the Uchiyama family worth $1.9 billion by market value, has said it believes the ultimate objective of Hong Kong-based Oasis is full management control, which Oasis denies. Fujitec didn’t immediately comment on the vote.

“Most importantly, we will be expecting the newly constructed board to relieve Fujitec from Uchiyama family control,” Oasis said.

The fund had sought to replace all the external directors on the existing eight-strong board with its own candidates to blunt what Oasis claims is the undue influence of the founding family, which owns about 6% of the company.

The shareholders also rejected two additional directors nominated by the company. As a result, the Fujitec board will now have nine members: three from management, two incumbent external directors and four new Oasis-backed outside directors.

Oasis has said the board has been protecting the former Chief Executive Officer Takakazu Uchiyama, who stepped down following revelations of real estate transactions involving his family.

The company initially said an internal investigation found no legal issues with the transactions, but later launched a third-party probe. It’s not clear when the results will be announced.


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