November 22, 2019 / 11:48 AM / 19 days ago

UPDATE 1-Blackstone gives Unizo more time to respond to buyout offer

(Adds details from Blackstone in paragraph three.)

TOKYO, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Blackstone Group said on Friday it had extended the deadline for Japanese hotel operator Unizo Holdings to respond to the buyout firm's $1.6 billion offer.

Blackstone said in a statement that it would provide an additional update by Wednesday. It had given Unizo until Nov. 19 to decide on its 5,000-yen-per-share offer. It has been extending the deadline since Oct. 23.

The U.S. fund said it is still interested in buying Unizo even though the hotelier likely initiated sale procedures for some 20 properties in the United States and Japan, with a total book value of about 155.5 billion yen ($1.4 billion). Asset sales are sometimes used as a tactic by buyout targets to reduce their attractiveness.

Blackstone last month emerged as a bidder for Unizo and warned the company it would launch a tender offer or explore other options if Unizo did not agree to its proposal.

Unizo in July became a target for a hostile bid by a Japanese travel agent H.I.S. Co. Unizo at one stage turned to U.S. buyout firm Fortress Investment Group to fend off the bid. But later it withdrew its support for Fortress' white-knight offer. ($1 = 108.4800 yen) (Reporting by Junko Fujita and Kevin Buckland Editing by William Mallard and Louise Heavens)

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