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Toshiba's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, April 7 2021. Picture: Picture: KIYOSHI OTA/BLOOMBERG
Toshiba's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, April 7 2021. Picture: Picture: KIYOSHI OTA/BLOOMBERG

Bidders for Toshiba are considering offering up to ¥7,000 a share to take the troubled Japanese conglomerate private, three people familiar with the situation told Reuters, valuing the deal at about $22bn.

Toshiba, which is exploring strategic options, said earlier in June it had received eight initial buyout proposals and two proposals for capital alliances that would see it remain listed.

The bidders are now discussing an offer price range of up to ¥7,000 a share with Toshiba’s shareholders, the people said, representing up to a 27% premium to Toshiba’s share price as of Wednesday’s close.

A separate source said the range of offers had been widespread and various conditions have been attached.

The offer price, if finalised, would value the chips to nuclear reactors conglomerate at ¥3-trillion ($22.02bn) at the top end of the range.

Toshiba said it would not disclose details of the proposals.

KKR, Baring Private Equity Asia, Blackstone, Bain Capital, Brookfield Asset Management, MBK Partners, Apollo Global Management and CVC Capital Partners have submitted initial bids, according to the people.

Some of them may form consortia for a bid, they added.

Bain, Brookfield, Baring, CVC and MBK declined to comment. The other funds did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Domestic funds, including Japan Investment, and a number of strategic players are looking to see how they can participate in the deal, the people said, declining to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

If successful, the Toshiba deal would be the largest buyout transaction in Japan since a consortium led by Bain took private the conglomerate’s memory chip unit, Kioxia, for $18bn in 2018.

The discussions are taking place at a time when a weak yen continues to haunt the Japanese economy, threatening to disrupt Japanese firms’ business plans and turn them into attractive acquisition targets for foreign buyers.

The yen plunged to a new 24-year low of 136.71/$ early on Wednesday.

Of all the potential bidders, Bain has been “very aggressive” in pushing for a buyout, said two of the people.

A Japanese investment banker with knowledge of the deal separately said even at ¥6,500 a share, the valuation for Toshiba seemed “too stretched”.

Ultimately, he said, the price would have to take into account how investors value Toshiba’s 40% stake in unlisted chipmaker Kioxia.

That gave Bain an advantage over other bidders, he said, because the private equity firm owned the bulk of Kioxia, meaning it would decide the fate of the chipmaker, which in turn would also affect the valuation of Toshiba.

Bedevilled by accounting and governance crises since 2015, Toshiba set up a special committee in April to solicit proposals after shareholders voted down a management-backed restructuring plan.

The company said earlier it would shortlist bidders for due diligence after its annual shareholders’ meeting on June 28.

Reuters

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