Toshiba sets March date for initial vote on break-up plan

TOKYO: Japan’s Toshiba Corp said on Monday it plans to hold an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders on March 24 where it will seek initial approval to hive off its devices business.

The final vote to determine whether to break up the 146-year-old conglomerate won’t happen until next year but the meeting will be an important gauge of shareholder support for the board’s restructuring plan, which has been criticised by some foreign hedge funds that own stakes in Toshiba.

One of the hedge funds, Singapore-based 3D Investment Partners, has submitted a separate proposal for the meeting, calling on Toshiba to explore other options and solicit buy-out offers from private equity firms and potential strategic buyers.

Toshiba proposed this month to split off the business that includes its power chips and hard disk drive units, rejigging an earlier plan to break into three companies – one for devices, one for its energy and infrastructure businesses and another to house its Kioxia flash memory chip assets.

A deal to take Toshiba private is seen as a potentially greater windfall for shareholders, including the foreign activists that now own nearly 30% of the company.

On Monday, Toshiba posted an operating profit of 42.7 billion yen ($369.85 million) for the October-December quarter, up from 20.9 billion yen a year earlier.