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Unizo gears up for privatization via Lone Star-backed ¥175B employee buyout bid

Unizo Holdings Co. Ltd. is planning to delist through a ¥5,100-per-share buyout bid that is being prepared by its employees with the backing of Lone Star Global Acquisitions Ltd., The Nikkei reported.

Chitocea Investment Co., a 73/27 venture between an employee-created entity and Lone Star, is making the tender offer that will run until Feb. 4, 2020, according to a Dec. 22 filing. The acquisition will involve all of Unizo's shares except for treasury stock, the publication reported.

Lone Star will raise nearly ¥175 billion to finance the transaction. The fundraising will be carried out with the help of Tokai Tokyo Services Co. Ltd. and will involve the U.S. private equity firm subscribing to up to ¥45 billion in preferred shares and providing up to an additional ¥130 billion to the offering entity.

Aside from Unizo's eventual delisting, the employee buyout will also lead to the resignation of the company's 43 officials, including Unizo CEO Tetsuji Kosaki. While the takeover is being carried out, Unizo's assets will be managed by a Lone Star-advised team of Unizo employees.

In light of the target-recommended takeover proposal, which reflects a 4% premium to Unizo's Dec. 20 closing price, the Japanese hotel chain operator will cease negotiations with other suitors including The Blackstone Group Inc. and the SoftBank Group Corp.-backed Fortress Investment Group LLC, the paper added Dec. 23.

As of Dec. 20, US$1 was equivalent to ¥109.47.