Toshiba will be delisted on Wednesday after 74 years on the Tokyo exchange, following a decade of upheaval and scandal that brought down one of Japan’s biggest brands and ushered in a buyout and an uncertain future.
The conglomerate is being taken private by a group of investors led by private equity firm Japan Industrial Partners(JIP) that also includes financial services firm Orix , utility Chubu Electric Power and chipmaker Rohm.
The $14 billion takeover puts Toshiba in domestic hands after protracted battles with overseas activist investors that paralysed the maker of batteries, chips, and nuclear and defence equipment.
Although it is not clear what shape Toshiba will ultimately take under its new owners, Chief Executive Taro Shimada, who is staying in his role following the buyout, is expected to focus on high-margin digital services.
JIP’s support for Shimada had derailed its earlier plan to team up with a state-backed fund. Some industry insiders say splitting up Toshiba may be a better option.
“Toshiba’s difficulties ultimately were caused by a combination of bad strategic decisions and bad luck,” said Damian Thong, head of Japan research at Macquarie Capital Securities.
Under government watch
“I hope that through divestitures, Toshiba’s assets and human talent can find new homes where their full potential can be unleashed.” Japan’s government will be keeping a close watch. The company employees around 106,000 people and some of its operations are seen as critical to national security.
Four JIP executives will join the board, as well as one each from investors Orix and Chubu Electric. The new management team will be joined by a senior adviser from Toshiba’s main lender, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group.
Toshiba has begun moving already, teaming up with investor Rohm to invest $2.7 billion in manufacturing facilities to jointly produce power chips.
The company needs to get out of lower-margin business and develop stronger commercial strategies for some of its advanced technologies, said Ulrike Schaede, a professor of Japanese business at the University of California, San Diego.
“If management can figure out a way to let those engineers truly engage in breakthrough innovation activities, they can emerge as an important player,” Schaede said.
“They’re a deep tech company.”