Reuters- Toshiba Corp said it will sell a minority stake in its memory chip business as it urgently seeks funds to offset an imminent multi-billion dollar writedown, adding that its overseas nuclear division – the cause of its woes – was now under review.
The drastic measures are set to be just some of the tough choices the Japanese conglomerate will have to take as proceeds from the sale are likely to only cover part of a charge that domestic media has put at $6 billion.
Still battered by a 2015 accounting scandal, Toshiba was plunged back into crisis when it emerged late last year that it had to account for huge cost overruns at a U.S. power plant construction business recently acquired by its Westinghouse division.
Describing the nuclear division as no longer a central business focus for the firm, Chief Executive Satoshi Tsunakawa said Toshiba will review Westinghouse’s role in new projects and whether it will embark on new power plant construction. The division will also now fall under direct CEO supervision.
Tsunakawa added Toshiba was looking to sell less than 20 percent of its memory chip business – the world’s biggest NAND flash memory producer after Samsung Electronics – which comprises the bulk of the conglomerate’s operating profit.
The firm is rushing to complete the sale by the end of the financial year in March as failure to do so will likely mean that shareholder equity – just $3 billion in the wake of the accounting scandal – would be wiped out by the charge.
Sources have said Toshiba aims to raise more than 200 billion yen ($1.7 billion) from the sale and potential investors include private equity firms, business partner Western Digital Corp and the government-backed Development Bank of Japan.
It is also selling other assets although it ruled out the sales of any of its infrastructure businesses – which include water treatment, railway and elevator firms.
“We’ve been raising funds through sales of stock holdings, real estate and other assets,” Tsunakawa told a news conference without disclosing the amount, adding that various measures were being considered to boost the firm’s capital base by March.
Toshiba also said it may eventually list the memory chip business.
Executives declined to comment on the size of the writedown, which will be announced on Feb.14 when Toshiba reports third-quarter results.