A rare spate of hostile takeovers in Japan

An investment arm of SoftBank has launched a “white knight” offer for a Japanese hotel chain amid a rare spate of hostile takeovers and other manoeuvres once deemed taboo in Japan. The friendly buyout offer of up to $1.3 billion from Fortress Investment Group for Unizo Holdings came after HIS, a travel agency, launched a hostile takeover attempt of the hotel group last month. Fortress, which has invested in more than 100 hotels in Japan, has offered ¥4,000 ($38) a share for all of Unizo’s shares. This represented a premium of 11 per cent on Thursday’s closing price and 101 per cent compared with the level a day before HIS announced its offer for ¥3,100 a share on July 10. The tussle for Unizo comes as Japan’s real estate investment trust sector awaits the finale this month of a hostile bid — unprecedented for the sector — by Star Asia, which has a Tokyo-listed Reit, of its smaller rival Sakura Sogo… The tussle for Unizo, which revived foreign investor interest in the Japanese property market, could intensify with Elliott, the activist fund, revealing that it has built a stake of 9.9 per cent in Unizo… Hostile takeover activity has been in effect absent from Japan for more than a decade after a spate of attempts in the late 2000s ended with the conviction of the investors leading the bids. 

Leo Lewis and Kana Inagaki