NAGAOKA, Niigata Pref. (Kyodo) Hokuetsu Bank will not sell its 2 percent stake in Hokuetsu Paper Mills Ltd., the paper company’s president said Friday, throwing up another hurdle to block Oji Paper Co.’s takeover bid.

Hokuetsu Paper President Masaaki Miwa held talks with Kuniaki Nozaki, president of the regional bank, earlier in the day in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture.

Miwa has been in Niigata Prefecture since Thursday to secure local support for efforts to foil the bid. He said Nozaki promised him the bank would hold on to its shares.

The commitment is another victory for Hokuetsu Paper, which got a similar promise Thursday from Daishi Bank, another local bank invested in the paper company.

Oji’s bid, which began Aug. 2, is the first hostile takeover bid involving a major domestic firm in the same industry.

Miwa also visited the Nagaoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and called on local business leaders to support his efforts to thwart Oji’s bid.

“Hokuetsu’s business activities are community-based, but Oji’s offer almost ignores the interests of the local stakeholders. We would like you to oppose the takeover bid and to support us in various ways,” the he said.

He was scheduled to travel to the city of Niigata later in the day to meet with Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida.

Hokuetsu Paper has close links to Niigata Prefecture. It started in Nagaoka in 1907, and the city is still registered as the company’s headquarters even though its actual main office is in Tokyo. The company runs paper mills in the cities of Niigata and Nagaoka.

At a news conference Friday afternoon, Oji President Kazuhisa Shinoda admitted his firm’s takeover bid was less likely to succeed following the Nippon Paper Group Inc. acquisition of an 8.85 percent stake in Hokuetsu.

But he said Oji would not raise its offer price of 800 yen per share.

Oji is undertaking a grassroots campaign to win support from small shareholders for its tender offer to acquire a controlling stake of more than 50 percent in Hokuetsu by Sept. 4, he said.

On Wednesday, Hokuetsu President Miwa said he is confident his firm can foil Oji’s takeover attempt.

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