Nikko Cordial: Shareholders Join Campaign Against Citigroup's Takeover Bid

Includes: C, NIKOY
by: John Bethel

Nikko Cordial (OTC:NIKOY) shareholders, including Harris Associates, have joined Orbis Investments' drive to force Citigroup (NYSE:C) to raise its $13.4 billion takeover bid, by placing sell orders in the market at a higher price:

Investors placed sell orders for a total of 136 million Nikko shares -- about 14 percent of the total -- at 1,900 yen ($16) on the Tokyo exchange as of 12:30 p.m., according to Instinet Japan Ltd. That's up from 71 million at yesterday's close. Citigroup has offered 1,700 yen for Nikko. Shares in the company rose 0.8 percent to 1,696 yen, the biggest gain in three weeks.

More from the linked Bloomberg report:

Shareholders led by Orbis Investment Management Ltd. are using the sell orders to pressure Citigroup to raise its offer, or to attract a rival bid, after the U.S. bank rejected their earlier demands for more money. Mounting opposition could scuttle the deal, fund manager Masaki Iso said.

"It's a bargaining technique which is unprecedented and very political,'' said Iso, who oversees about $7.3 billion as head of Japanese equities at Yasuda Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. "The risk is that Citigroup will cancel the offer, which may hurt Nikko's share price.''

If Citigroup walks, Nikko's share price will hurt -- I think for the short term. Over the longer term, shareholders should be fine. The company's stock price will rise or fall on its own merits -- again, over the long term.

Anyone following my moves on Nikko Cordial -- first recommended here in 2005 -- is sitting pretty. The stock has done well, you've made money, locked in a partial gain in 2006.

And now?

And now we're in a position where we'll either get a good price for our shares, or a better price. Or we might end up retaining our holding -- with an eye on selling at a higher price provided by the marketplace further down the road.

NIKOY 1-yr chart