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Pickens Tells Who Financed Koito Stake : Securities: The money for his $1-billion, 26.4% stake in the Japanese auto parts company was provided by a well-known raider in Japan.

December 06, 1990|From Reuters

TOKYO — T. Boone Pickens Jr. was forced Wednesday to reveal who paid for his $1-billion stake in a Japanese auto parts maker, muddling his campaign to influence the company and win greater shareholder rights in Japan.

The money for Pickens' 26.4% stake in Koito Manufacturing Co. was provided by well-known Japanese raider and property speculator Kitaro Watanabe, who also sold Pickens a chunk of the stock, a lawyer for Pickens said.

Watanabe twice tried to force Koito into "greenmail," trying to get the company to buy back his stake for a premium over the price he paid.

Pickens, as Koito's biggest shareholder, has been fighting for seats on the company's board, blaming continued failure on the closed nature of corporate Japan. He has taken his battle as far as the U.S. Congress.

"It doesn't do much good when he's trying to line up the might of the American system . . . and seems to be a front man for a property speculator," said Peter Tasker, a senior analyst at Kleinwort Benson International Inc.

Pickens has said his goals were long-term investment.

But Koito has said Pickens is a greenmailer working in concert with Watanabe, who tried the tactic twice in February and in May, 1988, a Koito spokesman said.

Pickens does have a large equity stake in Koito, which is supposed to give him certain rights as a shareholder, Tasker said. The value of Pickens' Koito shares are about $1 billion.

A new rule, which went into effect Dec. 1, requires investors taking a stake of 5% or more in a public company to report within five business days the exact number of shares they hold, the purpose of the investment and any agreements affecting the holdings, including a buyback clause.

Ironically, the rule was instituted as part of a U.S. drive to open up Japan's corporate world to the outside.

Pickens' lawyer would not comment on the terms and cost of the financing, nor why the financing was done through Azabu Building Co., owned by Watanabe.

"The fact that there were so many 'no comments' was a victory for us," the Koito spokesman said.

Pickens will officially submit the information required to the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Finance Ministry on Friday, Ishizumi said.

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