Toshiba CEO resigns as buyout offer stirs turmoil

TOKYO (AFP) – Toshiba’s Chief Executive Officer resigned yesterday as a buyout offer from a private equity fund stirs turmoil inside the storied Japanese company, with reports suggesting two other funds are considering bids.

Nobuaki Kurumatani’s resignation is the latest development in years of upheaval at the firm, which only won back its spot on the first section of the Tokyo stock exchange earlier this year after restructuring.

His departure comes as board members raise questions about the buyout offer from CVC Capital Partners, where Kurumatani formerly headed Japanese operations – though Nagayama insisted claims of a conflict of interest had “nothing to do” with the resignation.

The private equity firm is reportedly offering a deal in excess of USD20 billion, but there are reports that some in Toshiba see that sum as too small.

The Japanese conglomerate has worked to right the ship after a major accounting scandal in 2015 and the 2017 bankruptcy of its United States (US) nuclear subsidiary.

After sweeping restructuring, its earnings rebounded and it returned to the prestigious first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in January.

A statement from Kurumatani said he was stepping down given the return, as he had “completed my mission”.

But the departure is likely to be seen as a reflection of internal disagreements over the CVC offer.

The Financial Times said yesterday that another private equity fund, KKR, is planning to offer its own larger buyout proposal.

And Bloomberg News reported that a third, Canadian Brookfield Asset Management, was also exploring a possible offer.

Toshiba officials did not address the reports at yesterday’s press conference.

Toshiba Corp’s company logo is displayed in front of its headquarters in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP