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Investors prodding cash-rich Japan Inc. to spend smarter

Buyout of ad agency Asatsu-DK shows pressure for better capital efficiency

TOKYO -- Investment houses are turning up the heat on Japan's stubbornly undervalued companies to make better use of capital, creating a new wave of pressure on top of government-led corporate reform.

Showcasing the trend is Japan's No. 3 advertising agency, Asatsu-DK, which made news Monday by deciding to delist via a tender offer from U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital, apparently frustrated with the lack of improvement in its return on equity.

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