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