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Toshiba said on September 20 that a $14 billion tender offer to take the troubled Japanese conglomerate private is set to succeed. Image Credit: AFP

Tokyo: Toshiba said more than half of its shareholders participated in a $13.5 billion buyout led by private equity fund Japan Industrial Partners, meeting the threshold to take the electronics group private and end a 74-year-long run as a listed entity.

Toshiba, whose roots go back to 1875, said JIP now holds 78.65 per cent of all its shares. It said it will announce a delisting date from the Tokyo Stock Exchange when it’s decided. The Tokyo-based company’s retreat would close a troubled decade at the firm, marked by scandal and crippling losses.

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A lengthy auction process has kept the inventor of the world’s first laptop and flash memory in limbo during a year of sector-wide change brought about by surging interest in artificial intelligence. In the interim, Toshiba’s chip affiliate Kioxia Holdings has fallen further behind market leaders Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, while talks to merge with Western Digital’s flash memory business dragged on.

Toshiba executives and lenders have said privatization will allow Toshiba to focus on longer-term strategy. The company, whose businesses include nuclear power plants and hard-disk drives, has circled through three presidents in as many years. Earlier this year, Chief Operating Officer Goro Yanase stepped down to take responsibility for inappropriate entertainment expense claims.

Once celebrated for its technology innovations, Toshiba paid what was Japan’s largest-ever penalty for falsifying financial statements in 2015. It then suffered a disastrous foray into the nuclear business that forced it to take a $6.3 billion writedown and sell off its crown jewel memory-chip business, now reorganized as Kioxia Holdings.

Activists began circling the troubled company and, in 2021, it announced plans to split into three units, only to revise that plan in favor of a two-way split in 2022. The chief executive at the time resigned to take responsibility for the chaos, after which the board began soliciting bids to take the company private.