UPDATE 2-Toyota's new class of stock approved despite opposition from foreign funds

Tue Jun 16, 2015 3:39am EDT
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* Plan gets about 75 pct of 'yes' votes in preliminary count

* Toyota aims to attract long-term individual shareholders

* Some pension funds and proxy adviser ISS had opposed the plan

* Controversy over the plan seen discouraging similar moves (Updates Toyota retail investor ratio, adds corporate lawyer comment )

By Maki Shiraki

TOYOTA CITY, Japan, June 16 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp shareholders approved a controversial new class of stock on Tuesday that will bring in more long-term investors, but which faced opposition from foreign funds as the shares are only readily available in Japan.

About 75 percent of shareholders voted in favour of allowing the new shares, which will be unlisted and must be held for five years. After that, shareholders can convert them into common stock or have Toyota buy them back at their issue price.

Toyota has argued its business requires long-term product planning and has designed the plan to lift its ratio of retail investors committed to the company. Individual investors account for 10.5 percent of its shares, below the 20 percent average for listed Japanese firms.

"The approval rate is quite high," said Yo Ota, a corporate lawyer at Tokyo-based law firm Nishimura & Asahi. "There are very few types of equity instruments in Japan, so if this move leads to further diversification, that would be welcome."   Continued...