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Analysis-A court battle raises the question - how far will Japan swallow poison pills
Analysis-A court battle raises the question - how far will Japan swallow poison pills?

[Bild: 2021-10-21t041817z_1_lynxmpeh9k04j_rtrop...k=U_2hp1vQ]

The fate of future hostile takeover bids in Japan could rest on an upcoming court ruling that will decide whether the country's top maker of newspaper printing presses can move forward with a poison pill against an unwelcome shareholder.

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At issue is whether 105-year-old Tokyo Kikai Seisakusho Ltd will be allowed to not count votes from Asia Development Capital (ADC) - an investment firm that built up most of its 40per cent stake in a matter of weeks - when shareholders vote on issuing new stock that would dilute ADC's ownership.

A holding of more than 33per cent in Japan gives the stakeholder veto rights over important board decisions and sometimes de facto control.

ADC has sought an injunction and the Tokyo District Court's ruling - the first one to look at an attempt to exclude an investor from a shareholder vote on a poison pill - is expected sometime in the next week. A victory for Tokyo Kikai holds the potential to make it much easier for other Japanese companies to use poison pills.

Tokyo Kikai, which has said ADC hurts its corporate value, will put the poison pill plan to a shareholder vote at an extraordinary general meeting on Friday.

The battle highlights both a rise in hostile takeovers in Japan over the past few years as the practice - once considered the domain of unscrupulous corporate raiders - loses its stigma as well as what some experts see as inadequate Japanese takeover rules that leave companies, small ones especially, too defenceless.

It also comes at a time when investors are watching to see if a drive by Japan's new prime minister, Fumio Kishida, to roll back some of the pro-market policies of former premier Shinzo Abe will impact corporate governance.

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