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2ND LD: Sapporo shareholders nix Steel Partners-proposed management change.

TOKYO, March 30 Kyodo

(EDS: ADDING INVESTOR REACTION IN 4TH-5TH GRAFS)

Shareholders of Sapporo Holdings Ltd. on Tuesday voted down U.S. investment fund Steel Partners Japan Strategic Fund (Offshore) L.P.'s proposal to reshuffle the board of directors, while endorsing the brewer's counterproposal.

The move followed a tug of war between Sapporo's current management and Steel Partners, the brewer's biggest shareholder with a stake of about 18 percent, over support for their respective proposals.

After a general shareholders meeting that approved Sapporo's proposal, President Takao Murakami said at a news conference that it drew backing of about 70 percent of shareholders. Sapporo's proposal included Murakami's reappointment.

But Sapporo stock fell 9 yen from Monday's close to 486 yen on the Tokyo stock market at one point following the general meeting, before closing 2 yen lower at 493 yen.

Investors are uncertain whether Sapporo can improve its earnings under the reappointed management team, analysts said.

In January, Steel Partners called on Sapporo to replace six of its 10 board members with ones the U.S. fund named, citing a poorer business performance than Sapporo's domestic peers.

As Sapporo disagreed, Steel Partners tried hard to solicit letters of proxy from other Sapporo shareholders to drum up support for its proposal in the run-up to the shareholders meeting.

Major U.S. proxy advisory firms Glass Lewis & Co. and RiskMetrics Group have said they support the U.S. investment fund's proposal.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Apr 5, 2010
Words:239
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