Mitsui Fudosan to pay $1.2 billion in white-knight bid for Tokyo Dome

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese property developer Mitsui Fudosan Co said on Friday it would pay $1.2 billion to buy ballpark operator Tokyo Dome Corp, a white-knight bid likely to help fend off prominent activist fund Oasis Management.

Tokyo Dome, which owns the home stadium of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team, has been under pressure from Hong Kong-based Oasis. The fund has called for the removal of board members, including Tokyo Dome’s president, and a change in operations.

Mitsui Fudosan said it would pay 120.5 billion yen ($1.2 billion) in a tender offer for Tokyo Dome. The offer price of 1,300 yen per share represents a 45% premium to Thursday’s closing price.

Tokyo Dome, whose shares will be delisted after the deal, said it had agreed to the bid.

“Tokyo Dome must have thought Mitsui Fudosan is a better partner while it was under fire by a foreign activist, as Mitsui is a famous Japanese group and is unlikely to hit hard on the company,” said Ichiro Kurihara, a director of Tachibana Securities.

Oasis Management has called for a special shareholders’ meeting to remove three board members, including President Tsutomu Nagaoka, and in January told Tokyo Dome that it intended to buy all stakes at 1,300 yen per share, the same price offered by Mitsui Fudosan.

The fund has argued that Tokyo Dome was not making the best use of the prime location of its stadium, as well as the hotel and theme park in the complex. The company is due to hold an extraordinary shareholder meeting on Dec. 17.

“The proposal by Oasis would not result in an increase of corporate value”, Tokyo Dome said in a statement, adding it hasn’t been taking the prolonged COVID-19 outbreak into consideration.

Tokyo Dome’s operations which include a ballpark, theme park and hotel business has been hit by the pandemic, and it reported a 9.8 billion yen net loss in the six months through July.

Its management is now expected to stay in place after the deal for at least a year, a person familiar with the matter said.

Oasis did not respond to Reuters request for a comment.

Mitsui Fudosan also said it would sell 20% of the shares to Yomiuri Shimbun, the owner of the Tokyo Giants baseball team, after the deal is completed to boost competitiveness in an expected synergy.

($1 = 104.0100 yen)

Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim and Takashi Umekawa; editing by Jane Wardell, Richard Pullin, Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Kim Coghill