Investor Discontent Rises at Japanese Shipping Lines Amid Losses

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June 28, 2016

Photo: Christian Junker/Flickr

By Chris Cooper and Kiyotaka Matsuda

(Bloomberg) — As Japan’s shipping lines struggle with losses, the chief executives of companies are facing rough seas with fewer shareholders wanting them at the helm.

Eizo Murakami, president of Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the nation’s third-biggest shipping company by market value, will continue in his job for a second year with only 57 percent of shareholders favoring him, versus 86 percent last year, company records showed Tuesday. Support for Junichiro Ikeda, president of bigger rival Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd., dwindled to 77 percent from 98 percent a year earlier.

Many shipping lines worldwide have been battling depressed freight rates and losses as years of overcapacity force them to shrink their workforce and explore consolidation. Kawasaki Kisen, also called K-Line, reported its biggest loss in five years in the 12 months ended March and is struggling to return to profit as rates for container shipping, its biggest business, slump to record lows.

At K-Line’s shareholder meeting last week, votes against Murakami surged threefold to 330,094 from last year, numbers disclosed by the Tokyo-based company showed. K-Line declined to comment on the level of shareholder support for its president.

Hedge fund Effissimo Capital Management Pte has built up a 34.2 percent stake in K-Line, according to regulatory filings, rising from 6.2 percent in August.

Mitsui OSK posted a loss of 170 billion yen ($1.7 billion) last fiscal year, triple that of K-Line’s. Mitsui OSK declined to comment on its own shareholders’ vote.

© 2016 Bloomberg L.P

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