Knapp-Led Group Drops Bid for Japanese Company

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles investment firm headed by financier Charles W. Knapp apparently has abandoned its attempt with a British partner to acquire Minebea Co., ending the first hostile takeover battle between a Japanese company and a foreign firm.

Trafalgar Holdings, of which former Financial Corp. of America chief Knapp is chairman, and Glen International, a London-based investment company, sold all of their shares of Minebea, a Japanese conglomerate, Dow Jones News Service reported Friday. Several telephone calls to Trafalgar Holdings were not returned Friday.

The Trafalgar partnership, called Trafalgar/Glen, offered late last year to buy Minebea for about $1.43 billion in cash and securities.

Minebea, whose products include ball bearings and electronic parts, rejected the proposal. Minebea President Takami Takahashi said that the “whole exercise looks suspiciously like an effort to boost our stock price artificially and sell at a profit.” Knapp maintained that the partnership was interested in running Minebea.


The Trafalgar group filed suit in February to block a merger between Minebea and a Japanese clothing maker, contending that the merger was designed to thwart a Trafalgar/Glen takeover.

The group also sought to nullify Minebea’s private placement of 16 billion yen in convertible bonds. At the same time, the group declared its intention to buy up to two-thirds of Minebea.

The Trafalgar group never revealed the extent of its holdings in Minebea. In February, Knapp said that the group owned “significantly more” than the 14 million shares of which it was the registered owner but less than 22 million shares of Minebea.

Last October, investors in the Trafalgar group said that they had more than $125 million tied up in Minebea equity, including common stock, convertible debentures and warrants.