Blackstone back with $1.75bn Unizo offer to beat out preferred Lone Star deal

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Blackstone has upped its offer for Japanese hotel operator Unizo to JPY191.6bn ($1.75bn) to beat out the currently favoured offer from fellow buyout house Lone Star.

Blackstone’s latest offer of JPY5,600 per share is well above the JPY5,100 per share public tender offer launched by Lone Star, which has a deadline of February 4.

The company’s share price was sitting at just over the JPY1,900 mark last summer before rampant buyout activity began, and the firm’s shares were valued at about JPY5,190 each ahead of Blackstone’s latest offer.

Unizo became a surprise target for investment firms following a hostile JPY3,100 per share bid from travel agent HIS in July last year.

The company rejected that offer, and later backed a JPY4,000 per share offer from SoftBank-backed Fortress Investment Group in August, which valued the company at about JPY137bn ($1.3bn).

Unizo rescinded that offer in September, calling on the firm to up the bid to JPY5,000 per share.

Blackstone offered JPY5,000 per share in the middle of October, and twice extended the deadline for an answer from Unizo.

Rather than take that deal the firm instead plumped for an arrangement with Lone Star, which would take a 27 per cent stake in the business, with the rest held by Unizo employees.

Activist investor Elliot Management has been buying up shares in the company since the HIS offer, and is now the largest stock owner at 13 per cent.

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