Activist Murakami Says He'll Be Exonerated in Stock Probe

Japanese activist investor Yoshiaki Murakami said he expects to be exonerated in a securities watchdog investigation into whether he manipulated stock prices.

Murakami hasn’t done anything to confuse markets and had no intention of manipulating them, nor reason to do so, he said in a statement on Friday, responding to local media reports that said he used short-selling to drive down the price of TSI Holdings Co. shares. While multiple accounts associated with Murakami did short the apparel maker, the trades were settled with shares already held by his companies, and the purpose was to maintain voting rights while reducing the stake, he said.

The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission is investigating whether Murakami tried to manipulate the market with tactics including selling large amounts of shares in multiple companies, an official who declined to be identified told Bloomberg on Nov. 25. The SESC wasn’t immediately available to comment on Murakami’s statement.

Murakami is a former trade ministry bureaucrat who quit to start his own investment fund in 1999. In 2007, Murakami was convicted on charges that he bought shares in a broadcaster after learning that Internet entrepreneur Takafumi Horie’s Livedoor Co. planned to make a hostile bid for its control. He received a two-year prison sentence, which was suspended on appeal.

Murakami sold all shares held in Kuroda Electric Co., Sanshin Electronics Co., Accordia Golf Co. and Excel Co. on Nov. 27, according to filings today with Japan’s Finance Ministry. Companies and investors associated with Murakami increased their holdings, the filings said. The total stakes remain the same as those held by Murakami and his associates before Nov. 27 for Kuroda Electric, Accordia Golf and Excel. The combined shareholding in Sanshin Electronics increased.

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