TOKYO, July 5 Seibu Holdings Inc and top
shareholder Cerberus Capital Management LP said they
met on Friday as the two sought to end a highly public dispute
over the Japanese railway and hotel group's planned stock
A Seibu spokesman said the two sides met along with two
other large Seibu shareholders and that all four parties
explained their views on the situation. He said the meeting
marked progress, but that no concrete agreements were reached.
"This was a kickoff meeting and we view it as one step
forward," the spokesman said.
A Cerberus spokesman confirmed that no decisions were made
and said Seibu did not meet its request for more detailed
answers to questions the U.S. fund had sent to Seibu management
ahead of the company's annual shareholders' meeting (AGM) last
Friday's meeting was the first sign of any thaw in the
relationship since Cerberus blasted Seibu management at the AGM
for what it views as major shortcomings in terms of
profitability and governance.
At Friday's meeting Seibu was represented by Director Kaoru
Takahashi and Cerberus by Yoshiteru Suzuki, the senior managing
director of its Japan operations. Two other Seibu shareholders,
Development Bank of Japan and Norinchukin Bank
, also sent executives to the meeting.
Seibu and Cerberus have been at odds for months over the
terms of a planned relisting of the Japanese company's shares on
the Tokyo Stock Exchange, a move that would allow the U.S. fund
to cash out on some of its $1 billion investment.
At the AGM Seibu shareholders voted down Cerberus's bid to
secure 9 of 15 board seats, the fund's latest setback in an
effort to secure leverage over a company in which it now owns
Cerberus, Seibu's largest single investor, has been pressing
the embattled Japanese property and railways firm to improve
governance and earnings performance to ensure it gets a fair
value for its shares.
Seibu wants to push through the relisting as soon as
The standoff between Cerberus and Seibu has been seen by
some investors as a test of Japan's receptivity to foreign
capital as popular Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promises to
deregulate the economy to stoke growth.