Japan’s Unizo says rejected bids from local fund, Blackstone

Photo: Unizo website

Japanese hotel chain Unizo Holdings on Thursday said it had rejected buyout proposals from a “locally renowned” fund as well as U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Group, adding to a list of spurned suitors.

Unizo said the fund, which it did not name, offered to buy it at between 4,500 yen and 5,000 yen a share. That compared with its closing price of 4,540 yen on Thursday.

It also identified Blackstone as the suitor it rejected in September, when it disclosed a bid from a “top global fund”. Blackstone resubmitted its bid this week but was rejected again, Unizo said.

Previously a relatively obscure hotelier, Unizo is now being seen as a prominent battleground amid Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for greater transparency and reform.

The company has frustrated investors by giving the impression that it has wooed, and then jilted, a white-knight suitor, SoftBank-backed Fortress Investment Group.

The Fortress bid followed an earlier, hostile one from travel agency H.I.S. Co.

Unizo originally welcomed the “white knight” bid from Fortress, but later backtracked. On Wednesday, Unizo’s top shareholder, Elliot Management, ended weeks of public silence to ask Unizo’s board to address its concerns about disclosure.