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Fuji Xerox appoints Icahn-backed director to the board

Move is latest wrinkle in Fujifilm's battle to take over US copier maker

Fuji Xerox was set to merge with co-parent Xerox before investors Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason intervened.

TOKYO -- Fuji Xerox, the joint venture between Fujifilm Holdings and the office equipment supplier Xerox, said on Thursday it has named to its board of directors an executive supported by activist investor Carl Icahn.

The executive, John Visentin, took over as Xerox CEO in May as part of the settlement Icahn and fellow activist investor Darwin Deason reached with the American company. The investors are pressuring Xerox to abandon a $6.1 billion takeover by Fujifilm.

Fuji Xerox has customarily seated Xerox's CEO on its board, and this latest action follows precedent. But with a buyout by Fujifilm currently in limbo, the installation of Visentin will likely impact the outcome of the feud with Icahn and Deason. Fujifilm CEO Shigetaka Komori told Nikkei that Xerox has around six months to decide whether to accept his company's offer.

The joint venture is also elevating Deputy President Kouichi Tamai, 65, to president, replacing Hiroshi Kurihara, 64, who will stay on as a special adviser.

Tamai, who has a technological background, successfully turned around Fujifilm's failing operations and will now be tasked with steering Fuji Xerox, which is undergoing a restructure on top of the Xerox takeover battle. Tamai plans to resolve these issues and put the venture back on the path to growth.

Visentin and Tamai are expected to assume their new positions after shareholders and board meetings that will both be held on June 20.

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