Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Incredible Collapse Of Toshiba - Extinction Beckons For Former Colossus


There was a time, not too long ago, when Toshiba stood over the world of portable computing like a Colossus. Its portable computers were the standards by which others were judged. No self-respecting senior executive was seen carrying anything but a Port├ęge. The thinner, the lighter, the more expensive, the better.

Consumer electronics, components, medical equipment, the same was true.

So how do we come to a point, not thirty years later, when Toshiba is filing unaudited financial reports, facing delisting from the stock markets and telling investors that it may no longer have a viable business?

Briefly, two major scandals in less than three years. The first an accounting scandal, the second involving the Westinghouse Nuclear unit it purchased from BNFL in 2006. The liabilities arising could be terminal for the parent company.

At the moment the best chance for survival for Toshiba is to sell its semi conductor division, which accounts for more than half of its income.

That in itself represents a problem. Foxconn is likely to be the highest bidder, however the Japanese Government is desperate to avoid foreign ownership of the world's second biggest semiconductor manufacturer, especially by the Chinese.

Foxconn's rumoured $27bn bid looks impossible for a Japanese company, or even consortium, to match, so in order to survive ownership may have to pass outside of Japan.

Even then, there appears to be no guarantee this will be enough to save Toshiba. 

For anyone who remembers the strength of Toshiba in the 80s and 90s it's almost possible to conceive, but it really may not be around much longer.

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