Nissin Foods, the Japanese firm, has become the latest company in the country’s food industry to receive pressure from US investment fund Steel Partners.
The fund, which owns a 19.1% stake in Nissin, has expressed its “concern” over the company’s performance in a letter to management.
Nissin, Steel Partners wrote, needs to speed up the integration of 2006 acquisition Myojo Foods into the business, sell-off non-core assets including a golf course and buy back shares to improve returns to shareholders.
“We are concerned with Nissin’s execution and vision,” Steel Partners’ Warren Lichtenstein wrote. “We were surprised to learn that management has no plan of realising potential revenue enhancing and cost savings synergies from the Myojo acquisition. We were also surprised when we were told that management fully expects Myojo and Nissin to compete against each other both internally and in the market place despite the fact they are now sister companies! By not realizing revenue and cost synergies, the company is not enhancing corporate value.”
Lichtenstein urged Nissin’s management to meet with Steel Partners. “We believe that Nissin has the ability to be a world-class company and that implementing our suggestions should greatly improve corporate value and help the company achieve this goal,” he added.
Nissin is the second Japanese firm in a month to be pressured by Steel Partners. Two weeks ago, the fund wrote local candy firm Ezaki Glico and urged the company to boost value to shareholders.
However, the fund’s strategy of investor activism has not always been successful. Last year, Steel Partners attempted to pressure Bull-Dog Sauce Co.’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 since turned its attention elsewhere, with Japanese brewer Sapporo Holdings joining Ezaki Glico and Nissin Foods in the fund’s firing line.