• Kyodo

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Niigata Mayor Akira Shinoda expressed support Thursday for efforts by Hokuetsu Paper Mills Ltd. to thwart a hostile takeover bid by industry leader Oji Paper Co., during a meeting with Hokuetsu President Masaaki Miwa.

Hokuetsu “is an important local company. We will support Hokuetsu so that the takeover bid will not succeed,” Shinoda told Miwa. Japan’s sixth-largest papermaker runs a key plant in the city.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Miwa said: “I received some powerful words. We would like to further improve our corporate value and show our gratitude toward Niigata.”

Miwa also met with Niigata Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Akira Uehara and expressed his “strong resolve to protect the company,” Uehara said. The Hokuetsu president also urged local businesses not to sell their shares in Oji’s tender offer. The bid, which began Aug. 2, is the first hostile takeover battle in Japan by a major domestic firm for another in the same industry.

Miwa also met with Kunito Kojima, president of Daishi Bank, a key Hokuetsu shareholder, to ask the bank not to sell its shares to Oji.

Miwa is scheduled to visit Nagaoka in Niigata Prefecture on Friday to meet with the mayor, Tamio Mori, and Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida. The company originated in Nagaoka and its headquarters are registered there, although its actual main office is in Tokyo.

Miwa’s visit to the region comes after he said Wednesday in Tokyo that Hokuetsu will consider forming an alliance with Nippon Paper Group Inc., the holding firm of Japan’s second-largest papermaker, to thwart Oji’s bid.

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