OSAKA (Kyodo) Hanshin Electric Railway Co. has entered the final phase of arrangements to name Senior Managing Director Tsuneaki Miyazaki, 63, as the new owner of the Hanshin Tigers professional baseball club, sources said Thursday.
The club’s current owner, Masatoshi Tezuka, 75, who has concurrently served as the chairman of the railway that runs the club, is set to leave the chairman’s post and become an adviser following the expected approval of a management reshuffle motion by Hanshin shareholders at their general meeting on June 29.
Hanshin Electric will decide upon the club’s new owner by taking the opportunity of its upcoming board reshuffle, the sources said.
Miyazaki joined Hanshin Electric in 1965. He has long served as a business strategist. At present, he is both a member of the baseball team’s and the railway’s board.
Hanshin Electric, seeking to repel a bid by the Murakami fund to interfere with its management policies as the largest shareholder, is moving to integrate its management with that of Hankyu Holdings Inc. and become its wholly owned unit.
But the integration move has fans of the baseball club worried that this may lead to a change in the name of the Hanshin Tigers.
Seeking to assuage such concerns, Hankyu Holdings President Kazuo Sumi told a news conference Monday, “The owner of the Tigers will remain Hanshin Electric Railway Co. even after the management integration.”
Hankyu began a public tender offer Tuesday for Hanshin shares, although the Murakami fund, Hanshin’s top shareholder with a 47 percent stake, has remained dissatisfied with the Hankyu-offered per-share price of 930 yen. Hanshin shares this week have been closing higher.
Miyazaki has represented Hanshin Electric in tough negotiations with the Murakami fund over the fund’s proposals regarding the railway’s management since last fall.
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