Koito Denies Pickens Immediate Board Seat
TOKYO (AP) _ Takeover specialist T. Boone Pickens, now the largest shareholder in a major Japanese auto parts maker, failed Thursday in his bid for an immediate seat on its board, the company president said.
In a meeting with president Takao Matsuura and other officers of Koito Manufacturing Co., Pickens outlined his desire to participate in the management of the company and requested a seat on the board, but company officials declined to give him an immediate answer, Matsuura told reporters.
″It is necessary to build a trusting relationship first. In Japan, it is not possible to just say, ‘I’m a major shareholder’ and get a seat on the board right away,″ said Koito director Tamotsu Aoyama.
Koito officials are discussing whether to offer Pickens a board seat.
″We don’t necessarily understand his interest in managing our company,″ Aoyama said. ″Mr. Pickens is known for his qualifications in the oil business and in corporate buyouts, not in manufacturing.″
In a speech in Tokyo Wednesday, Pickens argued that companies should be responsible first to their shareholders and only secondarily to their management and employees - an idea that flies in the face of Japanese business culture.
Pickens holds a 20.2 percent stake in Koito, which makes headlights and other parts for Toyota Motor Co. Toyota owns 19.1 percent of the company.
Pickens also has denied he is interested in greenmail, the practice of seeking profits by buying up a company’s shares until a friendly shareholder steps in to buy them back at a premium.
Koito and Toyota, its previous largest shareholder, had been the victim of greenmail attempts by Azabu Motor, the auto retailer and investment company from which Pickens bought his Koito stake, analysts said. Pickens assured Koito’s managment that he intended to be a long-term shareholder and was not merely speculating, company officials said.
Matsuura said Pickens was welcome to buy more shares if he intends to be a ″stable shareholder″ - which in Japan means one interested primarily in maintaining a business relationship rather than reaping dividends or capital gains and who doesn’t sell even when the share price drops.