Shareholders in the Japanese company Bull-Dog Sauce, currently the subject of a hostile takeover bid from US private equity group Steel Partners, have approved a “poison pill” defence plan aimed at thwarting the US$260m takeover.

The plan involves issuing new shares to all its shareholders except Steel Partners, which is the company’s largest shareholder with a 10.5% stake, thereby diluting the US company’s stake.

At a general shareholders’ meeting held yesterday (24 June), more than 80% of votes were cast in favour of giving all shareholders with the exception of Steel Partners three new shares for each existing one, while paying Steel Partners in cash. Only a two-thirds majority was required to pass the measure.

This is thought to be the first time a “poison pill” defence has been used by a Japanese company.

Steel Partners has filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court in an attempt to block the move.