Toshiba’s president steps down amid acquisition talks

Nobuaki Kurumatani had previously been the head of a global fund which has tabled an acquisition proposal for the Japanese giant.

Toshiba chief
Toshiba chief

The president of Toshiba has stepped down, a week after the the Japanese technology and manufacturing giant said it was studying an acquisition proposal from a global fund where he previously worked.

Nobuaki Kurumatani tendered his resignation at a board meeting, and the board accepted, the Tokyo-based firm said in a statement.

Mr Kurumatani headed the Japan operations of CVC Capital Partners, which proposed the acquisition last week, before becoming chief executive of Toshiba in 2018.

Some questions had been raised about Mr Kurumatani leading the board discussions on the acquisition.

Mr Kurumatani did not attend the online news conference, where two board members explained his resignation and fielded questions.

Toshiba chief
Nobuaki Kurumatani stepped down a week after the Japanese technology and manufacturing conglomerate said it was studying an acquisition proposal from a global fund where he previously worked (Kyodo/AP)

A company official read his statement that said the resignation was for personal reasons.

“Toshiba is a wonderful company and is Japan’s precious wealth. I love Toshiba deeply,” Mr Kurumatani said in his message.

The CVC deal is estimated to be worth two trillion yen (£13 billion) and will turn Toshiba private.

Toshiba said it was giving the offer “careful consideration”.

Osamu Nagayama, a board member, told reporters the proposal lacked details and could not yet be evaluated.

Trading in the company’s shares was suspended when the news broke last week.

Shares of Toshiba, whose sprawling business includes making elevators and railways, shot up on the CVC news and have been trading at nearly 5,000 yen (£33).

CVC is a European private equity firm, based in Luxembourg, which has committed nearly 162 billion dollars (£117.8 billion) in funds, managing more than 300 investors.

It has declined to comment on the acquisition proposal or the president’s resignation.

But speculation has been growing other funds may offer better prices.

Mr Kurumatani will be replaced as chief executive and president by his predecessor, Satoshi Tsunakawa, who remained on the board, first as chief operating officer and currently the chairman.

Mr Tsunakawa oversaw some of the recent financial challenges at Toshiba. Before becoming CEO, in his previous stint from 2016, he had headed Toshiba’s medical systems business, now a group company of Japanese camera and equipment maker Canon.

He told reporters Toshiba was ready to embark on growth as “an infrastructure services company”, and promised to work in the interests of shareholders, employees and society overall, and continue to strengthen governance.

“We stand behind the principle of ‘Do the right thing,’ ” he said, delivering the motto in English.

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