ValueAct ratchets up criticism of Japan’s Seven & i

ValueAct ratchets up criticism of Japan's Seven & i © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man uses a mobile phone outside a 7-Eleven convenience store in Tokyo, Japan December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) -ValueAct Capital criticised Seven & i Holdings on Friday for having failed to provide clear answers to key questions about the Japanese retail giant’s strategy, building up tension ahead of its annual shareholders meeting.

“Seven & i did not answer any of the nine questions posed by ValueAct in a clear and specific way,” ValueAct told Reuters in a statement, a day after Seven & i independent directors promised to continue reviewing strategic alternatives.

The nine questions, which the U.S. fund had asked the company to answer when it reported earnings on Thursday, included whether the board recognises shareholder dissatisfaction with the current conglomerate structure.

ValueAct, which owns a 4.4% stake in Seven & i, is calling for a spin-off of its 7-Eleven convenience store chain and seeks to replace four of the 14 board members at the annual meeting.

“The company’s communications continue to be vague and confusing,” the fund said. “We look forward to providing shareholders the opportunity to vote for new directors who will put the company on a path towards a better future.”

In response, Seven & i said in a statement to Reuters that its strategy committee will continuously discuss reforms to the group structure.

“We plan to express the views of our board, which will include responses to questions from shareholders, around mid April,” it said.

Shares of Seven & i slid 4% on Friday, after its profit outlook for this financial year failed to meet market expectations.

Source: Reuters