Rakuten wants TBS to open books

Internet mall wants to see stock transactions

TOKYO — Internet mall Rakuten will file a request for a temporary injunction with the Tokyo District Court in order to examine the books of the TBS web for records of stock transactions, Rakuten said Tuesday.

The aim is to show that TBS’ policy of boosting the holdings of so-called stable shareholders is depriving owners of TBS stock, including Rakuten, of profit opportunities.

The injunction filing is seen as a Rakuten maneuver to strengthen its position prior to the TBS general shareholders meeting June 28. Meanwhile, TBS is prepping its own legal brief to counter the Rakuten move.

Rakuten announced April 19 that it would raise its stake in TBS to more than 20% and asked the net to make Rakuten prexy Hiroshi Mikitani and Culture Convenience Club prexy Muneaki Masud outside members of the TBS board.

Rakuten has also been gathering support among TBS shareholders for a potential proxy battle, while TBS has prepared poison pill measures to prevent a Rakuten takeover bid.

On April 27 a third-party panel convened to evaluate the Rakuten stock buy plan. If the panel decides that Rakuten’s bid to boost its stake in TBS to 20% and over is “abusive,” it will give the web the greenlight to activate the poison pill measures. Also, TBS has sent three questionnaires to Rakuten to clarify its intentions.

If the panel, which is skedded to hand down its decision as early as next week, rules against Rakuten, the company is likely to go to the courts while continuing to lobby TBS shareholders for support.

The bad blood between the two companies can be traced back to Rakuten’s massive buy of TBS shares in October 2005, which the broadcaster regarded as a hostile takeover bid — and resisted fiercely. Ever since, Rakuten has been pushing for partnership talks, while TBS has repeatedly demanded that Rakuten first unload its TBS shares before such talks begin.

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