• Kyodo News

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Nipponkoa Insurance Co. President Makoto Hyodo was re-elected Thursday at a general shareholders’ meeting despite opposition from its leading shareholder, U.S. investment adviser Southeastern Asset Management Inc.

President Hyodo kept his job after winning support from regional banks and other shareholders whose combined stake amounted to about 45 percent, company sources said.

The U.S. investment fund, which owns 18 percent of the Japanese insurer, opposed Hyodo’s re-election in 2008 as well, criticizing the company’s deteriorating finances and slow reforms under Hyodo’s leadership.

The nonlife insurer also faced a challenge from its former managers, who as shareholders criticized Nipponkoa’s plan to merge with Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. next April.

The former managers argued it would be inappropriate to go ahead with the merger when the global recession is worsening. They also questioned whether a merger with the money-losing Sompo Japan would be the right thing to do.

But Hyodo defended the plan.

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