Business / Corporate

Foreign mega-deals challenged by Fujifilm and Takeda shareholders

Kyodo

Fujifilm Holdings Corp. President Kenji Sukeno told shareholders on Thursday that the company will continue to pursue a merger with Xerox Corp. despite the U.S. printer and copier-maker’s decision to terminate the deal.

“It is the best option for Fuji Xerox and Xerox. I will continue to seek (the merger),” Sukeno told an annual shareholders meeting in Tokyo at a time when the two companies have diverged over their merger deal announced in January.

Under the deal, Fujifilm would acquire a 50.1 percent stake in Xerox and merge it with joint venture Fuji Xerox Co. The Japanese company holds a 75 percent stake in Fuji Xerox, with Xerox owning the rest.

But Xerox shareholders Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason have objected, claiming Xerox has been undervalued. In May, Xerox said it had decided to terminate the merger after settling with shareholders.

Under the agreement, Xerox also reshuffled its management, replacing CEO Jeff Jacobson, who worked with Fujifilm on the planned merger, with John Visentin, a former information technology service firm adviser added to the board by Icahn.

At the annual meeting, shareholders raised concerns about the outlook for the merger. When asked about the impact that the termination of the merger contract would have on Fujifilm, Sukeno dismissed any ramifications for the company, saying, “It is Xerox that would be negatively affected.”

He said Fujifilm intends to continue fighting a New York court injunction on April 27 blocking the deal. Deason filed for the injunction in February. “We will first explain our position to the appeals court,” Sukeno said.

In a separate legal action, Fujifilm sued Xerox earlier this month for damages expected to top $1 billion (¥110 billion) for canceling the merger contract.

Meanwhile, a group of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. shareholders trying to stop its £46 billion ($62 billion) buyout of Irish drugmaker Shire Plc failed on Thursday to pass a proposal at its annual meeting.

At Takeda’s general shareholders meeting in Osaka, the group had sought to secure the passage of a proposal aimed at changing a company rule to require shareholder approval in advance for large acquisitions.

The group, comprising former Takeda employees and ordinary shareholders, had described the deal, announced in May, as too risky. The deal would be the biggest Japanese acquisition of a foreign company.

Some Takeda shareholders have also raised concerns that its plan to finance about 50 percent of the Shire takeover with newly issued shares could significantly dilute the value of each share.