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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 12:47 GMT
Cup Noodle white knight ups bid
Myojo Foods President Hironobu Nagano (L) with Japan's Nissin Food Products President Koki Ando (R)
Nissin wants to save Myojo from a US acquisition
Japanese firm Nissin, the maker of Cup Noodle, has intervened to prevent smaller rival Myojo from being swallowed up by a US hedge fund.

Nissin has launched a friendly 37bn yen ($314m; 166m) bid for Myojo after US hedge fund Steel Partners offered 29bn yen to buy the firm.

The hedge fund is already the largest stakeholder in Myojo, with a 23% stake.

Myojo shares have soared after both bids, climbing 13% on Wednesday on Japan's benchmark Nikkei.

White knight

"We have increased our profits over the last few years by restructuring to focus on our core noodle business," said Myojo's president Hironobu Nagano.

"Now we'll be able to develop the business without outside pressure."

Nissin, whose latest offer ends on 14 December, said: "We set the price based on a variety of factors, including overall market conditions and Myojo's growth potential."

Nissin offered a 870-yen-per-share proposal, as against Steel Partner's 700-yen per-share offer.

Steel Partners has previously made other hostile bids in Japan. It tried to acquire two small firms there in 2004.

"The deal shows the type of transaction that succeeds is a white knight bid," said Nick Benes, president of M&A advisor JTP.

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