Scandal-plagued Japan tech giant Toshiba gets tender offer

TOKYO (AP) — Scandal-embattled Japanese electronics and technology manufacturer Toshiba has accepted a 2 trillion yen ($15 billion) tender offer from Japan Industrial Partners, a buyout fund made up of major banks and companies.

If the proposal succeeds, it will be a major step in Toshiba’s yearslong turnaround effort, allowing it to go private and delist from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. But overseas activist investors own a significant part of Toshiba’s shares, and it’s unclear if they will be happy with the latest bid.

Tokyo-based Toshiba Corp. announced its board accepted the bid at 4,620 yen ($36) a share late Thursday, after trading closed in Tokyo. Toshiba closed at 4,213 yen ($32) a share Thursday, and gained 4.2% to 4,390 yen ($34) on Friday.

The move comes at a time of market jitters over ripple effects from the recent collapse of banks in the U.S.

The buyout would keep Toshiba’s business Japanese in an alliance with Japanese partners.

Japan Industrial Partners, set up in 2002 to restructure Japanese companies, lists big names among where it has invested, such as Sony, Hitachi, Olympus and NEC.

The consortium includes about 20 Japanese companies, such as Orix Corp., a financial services company, electronics manufacturer Rohm Co. and the megabanks, including Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., according to Japanese media reports.

The deep troubles at Toshiba began with a sprawling accounting scandal in 2015, involving books being doctored for years. That added to its woes related to its nuclear energy business.

Its U.S. nuclear arm Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in 2017, after years of deep losses as safety costs soared. Toshiba is also involved in the decommissioning effort at the Fukushima nuclear plant heavily damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Toshiba has gone through several presidents over the years, as the brand once prized for making household appliances, laptops, batteries and computer chips, became the target of overseas activist shareholders.

The latest proposal still needs to go through regulatory reviews in several countries, including the U.S., Vietnam, Germany and Morocco. The process is expected to take several months.

Toshiba has been trying to go private in recent years. Proposals to split Toshiba into three, and then two, companies were rejected by shareholders. Delisting would allow Toshiba to leave behind the activist investors.

Toshiba had its humble beginnings in a telegraph equipment factory in 1875. The brand had been synonymous with the power of modern Japan’s manufacturing sector. It has sold parts of its operations, including its flash-memory business, now known as Kioxia, although Toshiba remains a stakeholder in Kioxia.

Whether Toshiba can get back on a solid growth track remains uncertain. Last month, Toshiba lowered its profit forecast for the fiscal year through March to 130 billion yen ($1 billion), down from an earlier projection for a 190 billion yen ($1.5 billion) profit.


Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter