Fresh defeat for Hohn as J-Power rejects dividend call

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The Independent Online

Christopher Hohn, the activist investor, failed yesterday in his attempt to force J-Power, the Japanese power group, to double the dividend it pays to shareholders such as the hedge fund he runs.

Mr Hohn's The Children's Investment Fund (TCI), which owns 9.9 per cent of J-Power, has fought an increasingly bitter battle with the company and had previously failed to persuade local regulators to let it increase its stake to 20 per cent. Yesterday, shareholders in the company rejected TCI's proposal for a doubling in the dividend.

John Ho, head of TCI's Asian business, said J-Power's relationships with cross-shareholders had prevented his arguments winning the day. "Despite being defeated, we are proud to have done our best."

The battle between TCI and J-Power has been followed closely by critics of the corporate governance structures of Japanese companies, though Mr Hohn has failed in attempts to persuade the British Government to intervene in his battle with the country's regulators.

While J-Power has tried to portray TCI as a foreign investor interfering in a Japanese company, the hedge fund has won some support from local investors with similar frustrations about issues such as cross-shareholdings.

Nevertheless, the rejection of TCI's proposals was the second blow to Mr Hohn in as many days. On Wednesday, CSX, the American railroad operator, said it had defeated an attempt by the hedge fund to win four seats on its board, though the result of a shareholder vote is still in dispute.

TCI and another hedge fund, 3G of New York, hold a combined 8.7 per cent stake in CSX, and claim the company has been poorly managed. The two groups want their own director installed in order to bring in reforms.

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