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Japan’s Sapporo shareholders back defenses against takeover

Japan’s Sapporo shareholders back defenses against takeover

TOKYO (XFN-ASIA) – Sapporo Holdings shareholders have approved anti-takeover defenses proposed by the brewer as it tries to fend off a buy-out attempt by US hedge fund Steel Partners, the company said.

Sapporo said about two-thirds of its shareholders had voted for the proposed ‘poison-pill’ measures at their annual general meeting here.

Steel Partners Japan Strategic Fund, Sapporo’s biggest shareholder, had urged investors to vote against the proposal.

Sapporo Holdings president Takao Murakami said the vote showed his company still had the support of its other shareholders.

‘We would like to do our best to boost our corporate value by forming a united front among members of our group,’ Murakami told reporters after the meeting.

He declined to comment on what his company would do if Steel Partners made a hostile takeover bid.

The hedge fund, which hopes to raise its stake of 18 pct in Sapporo to 66.6 pct, said in a written statement that it was disappointed by the outcome. It said the anti-takeover defenses were ‘not in the best interests of the stakeholders of the company as a whole and will adversely impact shareholder value.’

A spokeswoman for the fund said it had not yet decided on its next move.

The defense measures will enable the Sapporo board to veto takeover bids that it opposes by allowing the issue of new shares to dilute the stake of a bidder.

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