Steel Partners, the US hedge fund that last year lost a protracted battle to buy Japan’s Bull-Dog Sauce Co., today (17 March) urged local candy firm Ezaki Glico to boost value to shareholders.

The investor, which is the confectioner’s largest single shareholder with a 14.4% stake, outlined its proposals for the company to improve its corporate value, including a dividend hike and the appointment of an independent board member.

Shares in Ezaki Glico are low compared to its peers and the company should cancel and buy back some of its stock, Steel Partners said.

The company should look to pass on rising commodity costs by raising prices and consider expanding overseas, the fund proposed.

Steel Partners said it “believes the implementation of the suggestions would result in higher earnings per share and help the company achieve an 8% return on equity”.

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Last year, Steel Partners attempted to pressure Bull-Dog’s management to boost shareholder returns, which then introduced a “poison pill” defence to prevent the fund from buying the company.

The fund appealed to Japan’s Supreme Court, which ruled in Bull-Dog’s favour.

Steel Partners has turned its attention elsewhere and is looking to a buy a one-third stake in Japanese brewer Sapporo Holdings.