Japan’s Unizo withdraws support for $1.3b takeover bid by Softbank-backed fund

FILE PHOTO - SoftBank Corp. placard is prepared during a ceremony to mark the company's debut on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo, Japan, December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

Japanese hotel operator Unizo Holdings withdrew its support for a $1.3 billion takeover bid by a SoftBankbacked fund, saying it wanted better terms, just a month after it welcomed the “white knight” buyout offer.

The company also said it had received a separate offer from an unnamed third party which it had rejected as insufficient.

Unizo‘s about-face appears to heighten the possibility that SoftBank-owned Fortress Investment Group will have to hike its offer price. It also marks another twist in a deal that began with a rare hostile bid and has drawn in U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management.

“The board of directors has rescinded our previous opinion … and has voted to withhold our opinion on whether or not to recommend tendering shares,” Unizo said on Friday.

Fortress last month offered 4,000 yen ($37) a share for Unizo, trumping an earlier bid from travel agency H.I.S. Co that had made a rare hostile offer for the company at 3,100 yen a share.

Unizo said on Friday Fortress had not fulfilled its demands including raising the price to 5,000 yen or met its concerns about employment and working conditions of current employees.

The tug-of-war over Unizo has marked a stark departure from most acquisitions in Japan, where takeovers tend to be pre-agreed deals waiting to be rubber-stamped. Unwelcome bids, like that from H.I.S., are particularly rare.

Following’s H.I.S.’ exit last month, market participants had said Fortress could be pressured by Unizo‘s minority shareholders to raise its offer price.

U.S. hedge fund Elliot Management holds around 11% of Unizo, while Japan’s Ichigo Asset Management owns at least 6.6% according to recent filings.

Shares of Unizo finished up 0.9% at 4,510 yen, above Fortress‘ offer price.

Reuters

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In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
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