Aeon to launch friendly bid for Origin Toshu

by Taiga Uranaka

Retail giant Aeon Co. announced Monday it will launch a friendly takeover bid for Origin Toshu Co., offering to serve as a white knight for the boxed-meal chain currently facing a hostile takeover by Don Quijote Co.

Aeon is offering to buy Origin Toshu for 3,100 yen per share, far above Don Quijote’s 2,800 yen.

Aeon’s offer represents a 46.8 percent premium on Origin Toshu’s average share price for the past three months. Aeon said it will pay a total of 27.76 billion yen if it successfully acquires 50 percent of Origin Toshu shares, adding the total would amount to 55.34 billion yen if it obtained all of the shares, including those held by Don Quijote.

“Don Quijote’s takeover bid has the possibility of hurting shareholders’ interests,” Kazuto Takanashi, Origin Toshu vice president, told a joint news conference with Aeon.

He said his firm first approached Aeon officials Jan. 17, two days after Don Quijote announced its surprising bid. Origin Toshu and Aeon officials said they can expect synergy by combing the to-go meal chain and the general merchandising chain.

“We expect (Origin Toshu) will help boost our meal sales, which is one of our biggest challenges now,” said Yutaka Furutani, Aeon senior executive vice president.

Asked about the possibility of Don Quijote raising its bid price to outdo Aeon’s offer, Furutani said it would then make a countermove within a price range deemed appropriate, without providing actual figures.

Don Quijote issued a brief statement saying it will consider its response after examining Aeon’s offer.

Don Quijote and its group companies hold 30.92 percent of Origin Toshu’s shares, most of which they acquired in August. Don Quijote had explained they decided to launch the takeover attempt to “speed up” the two’s operational alliance.