• Bloomberg


Three weeks after billionaire investor Daniel Loeb started a public campaign demanding changes at the industrial robot-maker, Fanuc Corp. says it will consider ways to increase investor returns.

Its stock surged.

The company, one of the most secretive in Japan, will start what it calls a shareholder relations department next month and begin meetings with stock owners, said Keisuke Fujii, a spokesman for the Yamanashi-based company.

The decision to open such a department was made last year and is not related to Loeb, Fujii said.

Loeb’s New York-based hedge fund Third Point LLC called for changes at Fanuc last month after buying a stake, urging the company to buy back shares amid rising earnings and widening profit margins.

The Nikkei newspaper reported the news early Friday, citing an interview with President Yoshiharu Inaba.

Its shares climbed as much as 12 percent to ¥26,530, the highest since the company listed in 1976.

“This is a meaningful move for Japanese corporate governance,” said Mitsushige Akino, executive officer of Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “And the stock move shows it.”

Fanuc’s cash total of $8.5 billion and absence of debt is hard to understand given the company’s business quality, growth opportunities and low capital intensity, Third Point said last month.

The company will probably report that profit rose 79 percent to ¥195 billion for the business year ending March 31, according to the average of 18 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

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