Losses and profits. It is not only in France that activist wolves attack symbols. Danone in France, Toshiba in Japan. The Singaporean fund Effissimo obtained, Thursday, March 18, in an extraordinary general meeting (AG) of the Japanese group, the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the doubtful circumstances of the votes during the last annual AGM, on July 31, 2020 It is already exceptional in this country that an activist can obtain such a meeting, but it is even rarer that his requests are approved by the other shareholders. One more humiliation for the fallen samurai, suddenly abandoned by his masters. It is not the first time.
On the threshold of the 2000s, Toshiba was a bit like the Japanese Siemens. His mark shone on everything modern: washing machines, computers, medical scanners, precision machine tools and power plants. Toshiba invented flash memories, flat screens and embodied the Japan of the XXIe century. In ten years, the firm has shed almost all of this: its electronic chips, its medical devices, its household appliances, its computers, its televisions and its nuclear power. There remains a company specializing in electrical infrastructure, with precarious health and a reputation to be rebuilt.
The misfortunes materialized in 2015 with the revelation of a considerable accounting scandal. Profits had been inflated by more than a billion euros for nearly seven years. Then, in 2017, the company faced the collapse of its subsidiary Westinghouse, the American manufacturer of nuclear power plants, whose technology inspired EDF’s French power plants. Toshiba got their hands on this nugget in 2007 for $ 5.4 billion (4.5 billion euros, at current prices). He will have to sell his finest gems – electronic chips, medical equipment – to mop up colossal losses.
It is this fragile skeleton that the Singaporean fund has attacked. He entered in favor of a capital increase of nearly 5 billion euros in 2017 intended to restore the balance sheet and avoid the humiliation of an exit from the Stock Exchange. Toshiba will not have to suffer this shame, but will see activists arrive who now bite his calves – Effissimo, with a sulphurous reputation, as well as an American activist, Farallon, who also tabled a motion, rejected that -the. The beacon of Japanese modernity learns, with the help of difficulties, that this modern world is also that of another relationship with shareholders.