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Nikko Cordial Shares Inch Higher, Citigroup Holds Firm on Bid

Shares in Nikko Cordial traded slightly below the 1,700 yen per share being offered by Citigroup, which said it would not again sweeten its $13.5 billion takeover bid for the brokerage.

Citigroup said on Wednesday it would accept tenders for 30 trading days starting today. It had raised its offer price earlier in the week from 1,350 yen, but Citigroup Japan CEO Douglas Peterson said it would not do so again.

"Our price is full and it's fair and it's firm," he told a news conference on Wednesday. "It will not be raised." Investors have taken Peterson at his word. Nikko's stock was trading up 0.5 percent at 1,698 yen in the morning session and have risen only as high as 1,699 yen.

Citigroup is offering to buy all Nikko shares tendered and is aiming for a minimum stake of 50%. The bank already holds just under 5%, and buying the rest of Nikko would cost 1.578 trillion yen ($13.5 billion).

Citigroup had raised its offer on Tuesday after the Tokyo Stock Exchange's decision not to revoke Nikko's listing weakened its leverage against a group of large North American shareholders who dismissed its initial offer as too low.

The bourse had been considering delisting Nikko after accounting problems, and Japanese media reports said it was likely to do so.

Even before the bourse's surprise decision, four U.S. and Canadian investment funds that own about 25% of Nikko had complained that Citigroup's first offer undervalued the firm by a third or more.

The new offer still falls short of the 2,000 yen a share demanded by most of the funds.

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