TBS awaits Rakuten’s next move

Panel urges against poison pill defense

TOKYO — A third-party panel has advised the TBS network not to use a poison pill defense against Internet mall Rakuten to fend off a possible hostile takeover bid.

In its report on Friday, the panel said that it “cannot judge whether Rakuten will be an abusive buyer (of TBS shares),” but urged the network “not to engage in a defensive strategy.” 

TBS, which set up the panel in June to study Rakuten’s intentions, has decided to take a wait-and-see attitude.

The bad blood between two companies began in October 2005 when Rakuten bought up a massive amount of TBS shares, which the broadcaster resisted fiercely.

Rakuten now owns just over 19% of TBS and told the panel that it plans to increase that stake slightly beyond 20% in the coming ten years so it can list TBS in its consolidated earnings.

 The panel said there was no need to call a shareholders meeting to vote on a poison pill defense unless “new circumstances arise at Rakuten.”

Rakuten has pushed hard for partnership talks, while TBS has refused to come to the table until Rakuten unloads its TBS shares.

On April 19 Rakuten asked TBS to make Rakuten prexy Hiroshi Mikitani and Culture Convenience Club prexy Muneaki Masuda, a Rakuten ally, outside members of the TBS board — a request TBS rejected.

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