Unizo says it will continue talks with Blackstone

TOKYO, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Japanese hotel chain Unizo Holdings said on Monday it would continue talks with Blackstone Group, which last week submitted a buyout offer despite previous rejections.

Blackstone last week told Unizo it would launch a tender offer at 5,000 yen a share and warned the company it might take more aggressive measures if Unizo did not agree to the conditions by Wednesday.

“We have carefully evaluated and considered Blackstone’s offer. And today all the board members agreed to continue talks with Blackstone as its proposals could help maintain and improve corporate value and secure shareholders benefit,” Unizo said in a statement.

The bid from Blackstone marked another twist in the takeover saga surrounding the once-obscure hotelier, now seen as a test case for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for greater transparency and corporate disclosure.

Unizo has already rejected other buyout proposals from Blackstone as well as one from a “locally renowned” fund that it did not identify.

Unizo also withdrew support in September for a white-knight bid from SoftBank-backed Fortress Investment Group. In July, it was a target for travel agent H.I.S. Co in a failed hostile bid.

Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Gerry Doyle