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SoftBank-owned Fortress to make rival bid for Japan's Unizo -Nikkei

Credit: REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Fortress Investment Group, a U.S. investment firm owned by SoftBank Group, will offer to buy Japanese hotel operator Unizo Holdings, launching a counter bid against travel agency H.I.S. Co, the Nikkei reported.

H.I.S has launched 3,100 Y/shr offer to raise Unizo stake to 45%

Unizo opposes H.I.S. offer, sought Fortress as 'white knight'-report

Adds background, no immediate response from Unizo

TOKYO, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Fortress Investment Group, a U.S. investment firm owned by SoftBank Group 9984.T, will offer to buy Japanese hotel operator Unizo Holdings 3258.T, launching a counter bid against travel agency H.I.S. Co 9603.T, the Nikkei reported.

Fortress will a launch tender offer as soon as the start of next week for all the shares in Unizo at a price higher than H.I.S.'s offer of 3,100 yen per share, the Nikkei said on Friday.

Unizo, which opposes H.I.S.'s bid, has sought help from Fortress as a 'white knight', the Japanese daily said, without citing sources.

Fortress, H.I.S. and Unizo representatives were not immediately available for comment.

H.I.S., which already owns 4.79% in Unizo, last month launched a tender offer to raise its stake in Unizo to as much as 45%. Unizo said it opposed the offer, setting the stage for a rare hostile bid in Japan.

Unizo has a stock market value of about 123.5 billion yen ($1.2 billion), according to Refinitiv data.

U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management has been gradually raising its stake in Unizo and now holds 9.9% of the hotel operator, regulatory filings show.

Unizo shares closed at 3,600 yen on Thursday, or 16% above H.I.S.'s offer. Trade was suspended following the Nikkei report pending company comment.

($1 = 106.0600 yen)

(Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Additional reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Richard Pullin and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

((chris.gallagher@thomsonreuters.com; 81-3-6441-1842;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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