More firms than ever giving perks to shareholders

JIJI

Listed Japanese companies with shareholder perks hit an all-time high of 1,113 at the end of February, up 31 from five months ago, Nomura Investor Relations Inc. reported.

The shareholder-friendly companies accounted for 29.5 percent of all listed firms, also a record high, the unit of Nomura Holdings Inc. said in a survey report.

Behind the rise was the launch of NISA in January, a temporarily tax-free small-lot investment scheme modeled after Britain’s Individual Savings Account, or ISA, analysts said.

Though NISA accounts are limited to ¥1 million in fresh investments per year, participants are expected to continue pouring in funds over subsequent years and become long-term shareholders, they said.

Taking the start of NISA as a good opportunity to gain new customers, many firms are stepping up efforts to promote their stocks to individuals by holding seminars to explain the benefits.

At an investment seminar for women in Tokyo last week, major cosmetics maker Pola Orbis Holdings Inc. called attention to the company’s special program to give shareholders points that can be exchanged for its products.

“The program is believed to have increased the number of female investors in Pola,” said Akiko Saito, the company’s investor relations division chief. “Leveraging the perks, we hope to win more loyal stockholders and reinforce our business.”

Many listed companies are trying to attract more individual investors because they tend to be loyal and will help fend off hostile takeover attempts by other companies, Kiyotaka Hayashi, managing director of Nomura Investor Relations, noted.