July 20, 2018 / 1:29 AM / 3 months ago

Hedge fund Elliott raises stake in Japan's Alpine

TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management has raised its stake in Alpine Electronics Inc (6816.T) to 6.3 percent, a regulatory filing showed, in a move that could add pressure on the Japanese company to reward minority shareholders.

That followed a filing last week that showed Elliott had taken a 5.12 percent stake, saying it could make “significant proposals” to the components maker.

Elliott’s stake buy comes as Hong Kong-based activist fund Oasis Management, which holds a near-10 percent stake in Alpine, attempts to block the sale of Alpine to larger affiliate Alps Electric Co Ltd (6770.T), arguing the sale price is low.

Oasis has struggled to persuade management and other investors on the issue, and its proposal was voted down at Alpine’s annual general meeting in June.

It was unclear whether Elliott’s objective was aligned with that of Oasis. Officials at Elliott, Alpine and Oasis all declined to comment.

Elliott, a $34 billion multi-strategy hedge fund with an aggressive activist shareholder arm, is known for buying stakes in companies that are in the middle of an acquisition or takeover and forcing a better deal for shareholders.

Most recently in Japan, Elliott built up a stake in Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc after which suitor KKR & Co (KKR.N) raised its price before completing a takeover.

Activist investors are increasingly targeting Japanese companies due in part to perceived low valuations. Though shifts in corporate governance are underway, some investors criticize Japanese firms for putting employee welfare and traditional practice above shareholder returns.

The rise in activism has seen Japanese companies turn to investment banks and public relations firms for advice on dealing with potential approaches by activist investors, suggesting a shift in Japanese attitude toward such investors.

Reporting by Junko Fujita and Thomas Wilson; Editing by Stephen Coates and Chang-Ran Kim

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