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Japan Inc learning to live with activist shareholders

Kuroda Electric takeover underscores growing presence of aggressive players

The Tokyo headquarters of Kuroda Electric, which aims to reconstruct itself under MBK ownership.

TOKYO -- Japanese companies are facing the increasingly visible presence of activist shareholders, and entering an era in which they have to co-exist with assertive shareholders whether they like it or not. Behind the takeover bid by Asian private equity firm MBK Partners for Kuroda Electric, successfully completed on Dec. 15, was vociferous pressure on Kuroda from a group led by Yoshiaki Murakami, a well-known activist investor who used to head the so-called Murakami fund.

Among other assertive shareholders active in Japan, Elliot Management of the U.S. has raised its bid price for Hitachi Kokusai Electric. Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based Oasis Management is demanding that Alps Electric raise its acquisition price for Alpine Electronics.

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