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One of the corporate world’s most controversial takeover defenses is winning some unexpected fans.

The poison pill — which dilutes the ownership of hostile acquirers — has long been criticized as a tool to keep bad management teams in place and deny existing shareholders the right to profit from buyouts. But a takeover battle in Japan is now spurring endorsements for the tactic by corporate governance experts and influential proxy advisers, and even making some activist investors consider giving it support.

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