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Roland's management buyout plans meet resistance from founder

HAMAMATSU, Japan -- Roland, a leading Japanese maker of electronic musical instruments, plans to go private via a management buyout, but founder Ikutaro Kakehashi says he is not on board.

Ikutaro Kakehashi established Roland in 1972 and grew it into an electronic musical instrument maker of global reach.

     The business "would not improve if led by the current management team and (U.S. investment fund) Taiyo Pacific Partners," Kakehashi told The Nikkei.

     Kakehashi serves as chair of Roland Foundation -- the largest shareholder of Roland with a 9.8% stake -- and says he opposes selling those shares.

     Through the ongoing tender offer ending June 25, Roland management, led by President Junichi Miki, aims to obtain enough shares to clinch more than two-thirds of voting rights.

     Roland Foundation directors decided May 1 to sell Roland shares, but the move also requires approval from the board of trustees, which has not met amid opposition from Kakehashi, leaving things up in the air. The board of directors will meet next week or later to discuss the issue again.

     Even if the foundation declines to sell shares, "we expect the management buyout to go through," says Miki. "We are in accord (with Kakehashi) on the direction of management, but have disagreements over specific ways of doing things."

     Kakehashi founded Roland in 1972 and grew the company into a world-renowned maker of electronic musical instruments before stepping back from the front lines in 2001. He won a Grammy Award from the U.S.' Recording Academy last year honoring his work promoting the widely used MIDI standard for electronic instruments.

(Nikkei)

 

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