Bull-Dog Sauce Co. has begun putting its “poison pill” takeover defence into place in a bid to stave off US hedge fund Steel Partners, a hostile bidder for the company.

The Japanese sauce manufacturer has started issuing share warrants in order to dilute the stake Steel Partners holds in the company, which stands at 10.52%.

Bull-Dog Sauce is issuing three share warrants for each share in the company to existing shareholders, except Steel Partners.

The strategy has sparked a fierce legal battle between Bull-Dog Sauce and Steel Partners, which believes the company is acting illegally. Tokyo’s highest court has twice ruled that Bull-Dog Sauce can enact the so-called “poison pill” defence, although Steel Partners is set to appeal to Japan’s Supreme Court in a final bid to block the move.

Bull-Dog Sauce believes Steel Partners’ US$260m takeover bid is not in the “common interest” of the company’s shareholders.

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