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Toshiba receives interest from 10 potential investors

Stock Markets May 13, 2022 06:01AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Toshiba logos are pictured at Toshiba Corp's annual general meeting with its shareholders in Tokyo, Japan, June 25, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Makiko Yamazaki and Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan's beleaguered Toshiba (OTC:TOSYY) Corp said on Friday it has received interest from 10 potential investors after soliciting buyout offers.

The conglomerate, long under pressure from activist shareholders, also announced a special dividend worth some $545 million, the second year in a row it has issued such a payout.

Toshiba, which has since 2015 been bedevilled by accounting and governance crises, set up a special committee last month to explore strategic options including potential deals to go private after shareholders voted down a management-backed restructuring plan.

Toshiba, whose businesses span nuclear energy, infrastructure, devices and semiconductors, said 10 potential investors had signed confidentiality pledges, without identifying them. They have been given detailed financial information and the deadline for submitting non-binding proposals is May 30.

It was not clear how many separate proposals Toshiba might end up entertaining.

"Everyone will be in to kick the tires," said Quiddity Advisors analyst Travis Lundy who publishes on Smartkarma.

"Even if someone only wants a piece of the business, being involved in the first stage gets them the visibility to join a consortium for a second round formal bid," he said.

U.S. private equity firm Bain has sounded out multiple other Toshiba shareholders about teaming up as it prepares to make a buyout offer, sources have previously told Reuters. And Toshiba's top shareholder, Singapore-based Effissimo Capital Management, has said it has agreed to sell its 9.9% stake to Bain if it launches a tender offer.

Blackstone (NYSE:BX) and KKR are considering a joint bid for Toshiba, according to media reports earlier this week.

Those three private equity firms and Canadian investment firm Brookfield were tapped by Toshiba's strategic review committee last year to put together and submit ideas for the conglomerate, sources have previously said.

In April 2021, CVC Capital Partners made an unsolicited offer to take Toshiba private worth more than $20 billion which the conglomerate rejected as lacking in detail. Toshiba currently has a market cap of $18.3 billion.

Toshiba said it has hired JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) and Mizuho Financial Group Inc as financial advisors in addition to Nomura Holdings (NYSE:NMR).

It also has delayed board director nominations, saying it needed more time to finalise candidates. The company, which will hold its annual general meeting in June, is trying to ascertain whether there were any conflict-of-interest issues for some candidates, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Interim board chairman Satoshi Tsunakawa has been in the position on a temporary basis. Shareholders last year rejected the re-election of his predecessor, angered after an investigation found that the company's management colluded with the Japanese government to put pressure on foreign investors.

Toshiba also forecast a 7% rise in operating profit to 170 billion yen ($1.3 billion) this financial year after a 52% jump in the year just ended. Toshiba's outlook compares with a Refinitiv consensus estimate of 177 billion yen,

The special dividend of 160 yen per share would bring total dividends planned for this financial year to 290 yen. That's up from last year's total of 220 yen which included a special dividend of 110 yen.

($1 = 128.7 yen)

Toshiba receives interest from 10 potential investors

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