Toshiba Corp plans to split into three companies as early as 2023, a report said yesterday, after a series of crises at the firm, including the ouster of the board’s chairman and a contentious buyout offer.
The three units are to focus on infrastructure, devices and semiconductor memory, and are expected to be listed, possibly within two years, the Nikkei Shimbun said.
Toshiba told Agence France-Presse the option of splitting its business up was under consideration, but said nothing had been decided yet.
The Nikkei, which did not cite sources, said the move could be announced on Friday, when Toshiba reports earnings and unveils a new mid-term business plan.
“We are drafting a mid-term business plan to enhance our corporate value, and dividing our businesses is one of the options, but there is nothing officially decided at this point,” Toshiba spokesman Tatsuro Oishi said.
“We will swiftly announce if we decide anything that should be disclosed,” he said.
The decision, if confirmed, would cap a period of enormous upheaval for the firm, once a symbol of Japan’s advanced technology and economic power.
In June, shareholders voted to oust the board’s chairman after a series of scandals and losses, in a rare victory for activist investors in corporate Japan.
The move followed the damaging revelations of an independent probe that concluded Toshiba attempted to block shareholders from exercising their proposal and voting rights.
The investigation’s report detailed how the firm had pursued an intervention from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to help sway a board vote.
The revelations came after an unexpected buyout offer in April from a private equity fund associated with then-CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani.
The buyout offer sparked uproar, with allegations it was intended to blunt the influence of activist investors.
Other offers emerged subsequently, and Kurumatani resigned in April, although he insisted it was not related to the buyout controversy.
The Nikkei report said that splitting up conglomerates had been a successful strategy for some firms in the US, including Hewlett-Packard Co.
However, for others, such as chemical giant DuPont Co, which separated into three firms under shareholder pressure, overall market capitalization is now lower, the business daily said.
The move is relatively rare in Japan, and Toshiba would be the first major conglomerate to split into completely independent listed companies, the Nikkei said.
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