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Steel Partners seeks support for Sapporo board nominees

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Steel Partners Japan Strategic Fund (Offshore) has commenced a proxy solicitation campaign seeking support for the election of its slate of ten director-nominees to the board of directors of Sapporo Holdings.

Steel Partners is seeking the support of Sapporo shareholders for Steel Partners’ six director-nominees and four incumbent directors whom Steel Partners supports for re-election to the board at the 2010 AGM.

“We believe that electing the shareholder nominees and the independent nominees will maintain continuity on the board while also bringing about the leadership change necessary to revitalise Sapporo, to refresh Sapporo’s leadership and to increase Sapporo’s long-term corporate value,” said the letter included in Steel Partners’ proxy solicitation materials.

In the proxy materials, Steel Partners highlighted its serious reservations about the ability and competence of Sapporo’s current board to effectively manage the company.

In the letter to shareholders, Steel Partners wrote: “We believe that poor board oversight and poor management are the root cause of these problems… Further, management cannot be trusted to fix the long-term problems that they created.”

The proxy materials further emphasized Steel Partners’ concerns about the company’s poor performance and deteriorating corporate value under its current board.

“Sapporo’s existing board and management team have been given a sufficiently long period of time to demonstrate the effectiveness of their strategy, and we believe they have failed. If the status quo is maintained, we are deeply concerned that the company’s future will mirror its past under present leadership,” said Warren Lichtenstein of Steel Partners.

Steel Partners will host information meetings with Sapporo shareholders in seven cities: Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Yokohama, Sapporo, Chiba and Omiya. One meeting will be held in each of these cities in order to provide Sapporo shareholders with the opportunity to learn the background behind the Steel Partners shareholder proposal and the qualifications of its shareholder mominees. The meetings are intended to help Sapporo shareholders understand how Steel Partners shareholder nominees will help revitalize Sapporo.

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