>Stock proposal creates big battle over Benihana's future

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>The knives are out at Benihana and the ones doing the chopping aren’t the chefs.

Shareholders and management of the Japanese-themed Miami restaurant company are squaring off over a proposed merger that would allow the issuance of an additional 12.5 million new shares.

In the last week, Benihana founder Rocki Aoki’s children and another major shareholder have come out in opposition to management’s plans. The showdown will come Monday afternoon at a shareholder meeting in Fort Lauderdale.

Benihana President and Chief Executive Richard Stockinger fought back Thursday in a press release that called not approving management’s plans “foolhardy.” The proposal calls for merging Benihana with a wholly owned subsidiary, BHI Mergersub, in order to create 12.5 million new shares of Class A common stock.

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