TOKYO/AMSTERDAM - Canon Inc declared its $1 billion offer for Oce NV unconditional on Thursday, sending a clear message to shareholders holding out for a better deal it is set to tie up the acquisition.

Canon extended its offer to March 19 even though the 71 percent of shares tendered fell short of its original target of 85 percent and said it wanted to buy all remaining shares.

Oce shares were trading at 8.62 euros, just above Canon's offer price of 8.60 euros per share.

It's a done deal now, said analyst Jos Versteeg at brokerage Theodoor Gilissen, adding he expected reluctant shareholders owning about 15 percent of Oce would have no choice but to tender their shares to the offer. They'll make the best of it.

Canon made its declaration after a Dutch court on Wednesday denied a lawsuit by Hermes Asset Management and the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) who opposed Oce management's handling of the offer and argued Canon's offer undervalued its target.

With this announcement, Canon and Oce have successfully taken an important first step in their aim to create the overall No. 1 presence in the printing industry, they said in a statement.

Hermes fund manager Maarten Wildschut told reporters after the ruling he would consider his position in Oce, declining to say whether the court ruling gave reason to tender the shares.

Orbis Portfolio Management, which owns about 10 percent of Oce shares, had also opposed the deal.

Canon's takeover comes amid a flurry of acquisitions in the office equipment industry, including Ricoh Co's takeover of U.S. distributor Ikon Office Solutions and Xerox Corp's purchase of Global Imaging.

Canon, the world's largest digital camera maker and a major producer of copiers and printers, sees the Oce deal as a way to generate earnings growth.

Before the announcement, Canon shares closed down 0.8 percent at 3,765 yen in Tokyo.

(Editing by David Holmes)

($1=.7301 Euro)