Oji Paper Co. President Kazuhisa Shinoda is requesting direct talks with Mitsubishi Corp. President Yorihiko Kojima in hopes he can persuade the trading house to sell him its shares in Hokuetsu Paper Mills Ltd., sources said Thursday.
Oji, the largest Japanese papermaker, has made a hostile offer for more than 50 percent of Hokuetsu, the sixth-largest, but is opposed by the giant trading house and other Hokuetsu shareholders, who combined own a majority of Hokuetsu shares.
Shinoda is hoping Kojima, Hokuetsu’s largest shareholder, will accept the takeover offer, the sources said.
But Mitsubishi has no intention of selling and has told Oji that top-level talks will be difficult, the sources said.
On July 24, before Oji launched the bid, Shinoda and Oji Chairman Shoichiro Suzuki asked Kojima not to buy new Hokuetsu shares.
Mitsubishi turned them down and bought new Hokuetsu shares to become the papermaker’s largest shareholder, with a 24.4 percent stake, on Aug. 7.
Oji’s takeover plan has drawn fire from local government officials and business leaders in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, which hosts one of Hokuetsu’s biggest factories.
Regional lenders Hokuetsu Bank and Daishi Bank, with each have a 2 percent stake in Hokuetsu, also have refused to sell to Oji.
The hostile bid will fail unless the offer is accepted by shareholders who can sell more than 50 percent of Hokuetsu’s shares by Sept. 4, or unless Oji lowers its targeted stake.
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