March 25, 2019 / 7:38 AM / a month ago

Itochu exec named Descente president in rare Japanese hostile takeover

TOKYO, March 25 (Reuters) - Japanese sportswear company Descente said it was replacing its president with an executive from Itochu Corp, capitulating to a rare hostile takeover by the Japanese trading house.

Descente said on Monday that Masatoshi Ishimoto, a member of its founding family, will be replaced by Shuichi Koseki, a senior Itochu textile executive.

The change is due to be approved by Descente shareholders at an annual general meeting in June, it said, marking an end to a months-long tussle over its management.

Itochu has said Descente needs better management and should expand into markets such as China. The two companies have been locked in a hostile takeover battle, unusual in Japan where corporate boards are often controlled by company executives.

But a government push for better corporate governance has forced companies to open up their boards to more independent directors, with some abandoning takeover defences in the past few years.

Itochu said earlier this month that it had amassed a 40 percent stake in Descente, which has licensed brands such as Le Coq Sportif, Munsingwear and Umbro. (Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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