Funds News

Steel Partners lifts stake in noodle maker Nissin

TOKYO, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Activist fund Steel Partners has raised its stake in Nissin Food Products Co. Ltd. 2897.T, possibly making the U.S.-based hedge fund the top shareholder in Japan's largest maker of instant noodles.

On Tuesday, Steel Partners Japan Strategic Fund (Offshore) L.P. conceded defeat to Nissin in a bid for another noodle maker, Myojo Foods 2900.T, after a white- knight bid from Nissin sharply exceeded the U.S. fund's takeover offer.

Steel Partners raised its stake in Nissin to 7.37 percent, or more than 9.39 million of the company’s outstanding shares, as of Nov. 21, according to documents filed with Japan’s Ministry of Finance and made available on Wednesday.

Previously it held 6.23 percent in the company, the documents showed.

That would make the U.S. fund’s stake in Nissin worth some 36.71 billion yen ($315.6 million) as of the close of trade on Thursday morning.

It also possibly makes the activist fund the company’s largest shareholder, a Nissin spokesman said.

A spokesman for Steel Partners declined to comment.

Steel Partners, an activist hedge fund run by Warren Lichtenstein, last month launched a takeover bid for Myojo, aiming to buy the 76.9 percent in the noodle maker it did not already own.

Steel Partners is currently the top shareholder in Japan’s fourth-largest maker of instant noodles, holding 23.1 percent.

But it was outbid by Nissin, which offered 870 yen per share of Myojo, 170 yen more than Steel Partners’ offer. Buying Myojo would boost Nissin’s share of the competitive $4.4 billion instant-noodle market to 50 percent from 40 percent now.

Shares of Nissin finished the morning down 1.5 percent at 3,910 yen.