Scandal-ridden Toshiba announces new buyout offer led by Japanese businesses

The logo of Japanese industrial group Toshiba is seen on top of a building at its headquarters in Tokyo on August 7, 2023. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)

Toshiba announced a 2 trillion yen ($14 billion) tender offer on Monday in a move that would take it private, as the scandal-tarnished Japanese electronics and energy giant seeks to turn itself around.

The tender offer led by a buyout fund of major Japanese banks and companies called Japan Industrial Partners starts Tuesday and is priced at 4,620 yen ($32) a share.

Chairperson Akihiro Watanabe asked shareholders to back the proposal, saying it is the only option for Toshiba Corp. to return to its former strength.

"This move for Toshiba is great not only for Japan but also for the world," he said. "I have faith in the revival of Toshiba."

Tokyo-based Toshiba also reported a 25 billion yen ($176 million) loss for the April-June quarter on 704 billion yen ($5 billion) in sales, down nearly 5% from the previous year.

It did not give a full fiscal year profit projection, citing uncertainties in its computer chip business.

If the proposal succeeds, it will be a major step in Toshiba’s yearslong turnaround effort, allowing it to delist from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

At least two-thirds of shareholders must offer their stakes for the bid to succeed. Overseas activist investors own a significant number of Toshiba’s shares, and some have expressed dissatisfaction about the bid.

The Toshiba board accepted the deal in March.

Toshiba closed at 4,584 yen ($32) a share Monday.

The buyout would keep Toshiba in an alliance with Japanese partners. Japan Industrial Partners, set up in 2002 to restructure Japanese companies, has also invested in other Japanese brands like Sony, Hitachi and Olympus.

Toshiba, a major manufacturer in Japan’s nuclear industry, was hit by the March 2011 tsunami that sent three reactors into meltdowns at Fukushima in northeastern Japan.

Toshiba is involved in the decommissioning effort at Fukushima Dai-ichi, which is expected to take decades. Its U.S. nuclear arm Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in 2017 after years of deep losses as safety costs soared.

The Toshiba brand, once prized for household appliances, laptops, batteries and computer chips, became the target of overseas activist shareholders.

Its image was also badly tarnished by a sprawling accounting scandal in 2015 involving books that were doctored for years.

Toshiba stressed the latest offer was "fair and reasonable" and made management sense, with companies that had longtime deep business relations with Toshiba offering to invest.

Chief Executive Taro Shimada said it would bring stability to Toshiba, which he noted will mark its 150th anniversary in a couple of years.

He pleaded with stakeholders to support the offer.

"The value at our company comes from creating what didn't exist in the world before," he told reporters.