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Blackstone awaits Unizo response on $1.6 billion buyout proposal

Blackstone awaits Unizo response on $1.6 billion buyout proposal
FILE PHOTO: The ticker and trading information for Blackstone Group is displayed at the post where it is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo   -   Copyright  Brendan McDermid(Reuters)
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TOKYO (Reuters) – Blackstone Group <BX.N> said on Friday it is waiting for Japanese hotel operator Unizo Holdings <3258.T> to respond to its $1.6 billion (1.25 billion pounds) takeover proposal.

Blackstone in October emerged as a bidder for Unizo and told the hotel chain it would launch a tender offer or explore other options if Unizo did not agree to its offer by a deadline, which it keeps extending.

Blackstone said it was waiting for Unizo’s formal written response on its latest proposed transaction terms. The buyout fund said it would make an announcement if there were any material changes in circumstances no later than later than Dec 13.

Blackstone has offered to buy Unizo for 5,000 yen a share, valuing the company at 171 billion yen ($1.6 billion).

Unizo is at the centre of a flurry of bid activity due to the attractive value of its assets. In July, the company was the target of a hostile bid by a Japanese travel agent H.I.S. Co <9603.T>. Unizo turned to U.S. buyout firm Fortress Investment Group to fend off the bid. But later withdrew support for Fortress’ white-knight offer.

Fortress, which last month raised its bid for Unizo, is currently running its public tender offer at 4,100 yen a share.

Unizo shares closed at 4,825 yen in Tokyo on Friday.

(Reporting by Junko Fujita. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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