End of era as Toshiba completes $13.5B offer to go private

Japanese industrial giant Toshiba marked the end of an era as a listed company on Thursday as it announced that a private consortium had bought almost 80 percent of its shares.

Remaining shareholders will be “squeezed out” after the $13.5-billion tender offer and Toshiba shares will be delisted after more than 70 years on the stock market, Toshiba said.

Toshiba traces its roots back to 1875 and evolved into a vast conglomerate in the 20th century synonymous with Japan’s postwar economic revival and its technological innovation.

The firm became a household name in Japan and beyond, making everything from early laptop computers, elevators and nuclear power stations to microchips.

But it has lurched from crisis to crisis in recent years, including a huge accounting scandal in 2015 and billions of dollars in losses from US nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse.

Pressure from activist shareholders and a takeover offer from private equity group CVC prompted aborted attempts to split the company first into three, and then into two.

Finally, Toshiba’s board accepted in March the takeover bid by the consortium that includes more than 20 Japanese banks and other firms.

“Toshiba Group will now take a major step toward a new future with a new shareholder,” CEO Taro Shimada said in a statement Thursday.

The saga has been closely watched in business circles for clues about what could become of other huge, diversified conglomerates in Japan and elsewhere. — Agence France-Presse

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