* Rare shareholder proposal from Japanese fund manager
* First such action by Sparx in 11 years
* Sparx demands Teikoku triple dividend from current plan
* Also requests cutting board members’ term to 1 year
TOKYO, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Japanese asset manager Sparx Asset Management said on Friday it has sent shareholder proposals to Teikoku Sen-i requesting the Japanese textile company increase dividend payment and shorten the term for directors.
This is only the second time the asset manager has ever exercised its right to submit a shareholder proposal, as shareholders grow more vocal following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to strengthen corporate governance.
Although some - mostly foreign - activist funds have issued proposals to Japanese companies in the past, it is rare for a manager of publicly-subscribed toshin funds to make such a move.
The asset management firm, the core company of Sparx Group , said it decided to submit the proposal to Teikoku Sen-i’s annual general meeting, planned in late March, as four years of its attempts at engagement with Teikoku’s management produced few notable changes.
Sparx said the manufacturer of fire hose and disaster-proof products was stockpiling too much cash without a clear plan for future investments and also owned cross-holding shares with limited business synergy benefits.
The proposals include a plan to triple dividend payouts from the current company estimate of 30 yen ($0.27) per share and to halve board members’ terms to one year. The latter is aimed at putting more pressure on the company’s management to take shareholders’ perspectives into consideration.
Sparx, which owns 6.1 percent of shares in the company according to Thomson Reuters data, said it is planning to consult with shareholder advisers and seek possible collaboration with other institutional investors. ($1 = 110.8900 yen)
Reporting by Tomo Uetake and Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Jacqueline Wong