• Kyodo News


Sparx Group Co., the largest shareholder in Pentax Corp., put pressure Monday on the camera maker to come up with an alternative plan to raise its corporate value if it decides not to ally with Hoya Corp.

“The current management team has an obligation to show to the market a proposal aimed at increasing shareholders’ value that is akin to or better than Hoya’s in a similar speedy manner as Hoya did,” if Pentax tears up a basic agreement reached in December with Hoya, the Tokyo-based investment company said.

Pentax said April 10 it has given up on a proposed stock-swap merger with Hoya and picked Takashi Watanuki as new president to replace Fumio Urano, who had taken the initiative to push for the merger.

Pentax and Hoya, a leading optical glassmaker, confirmed they will continue to explore the possibility of integrating their operations, but the glassmaker is increasingly becoming skeptical whether the new management is interested in joining hands.

The investment company, which has Pentax’s top shareholder, Sparx Asset Management Co., under its umbrella, said it is “extremely grave” if management has decided to scrap the merger plan without “a rational alternative plan.”

Sparx also said in a statement that a possible takeover bid from Hoya for Pentax “would be a fair method” because it will allow Pentax shareholders to decide on the envisioned integration of the two companies.

Hoya said April 6 it will try for a majority stake in Pentax by launching a tender offer, possibly in late June, partly because the merger plan under the basic accord met with opposition from some major Pentax shareholders.

Hoya’s top officials are seeking to hold a meeting with the new Pentax management this week.

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