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Toshiba set to appoint financial advisers for strategic review

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By Makiko Yamazaki, Kane Wu and Scott Murdoch

HONG KONG, May 11 (Reuters) - Toshiba Corp's independent directors are finalising the hiring of advisers to work with the Japanese conglomerate at the centre of a potential private equity bidding war, and a decision could be taken this week, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The directors received pitches from investment banks in the past weeks to take on a broad advisory role after the firm found itself in the crosshairs of a potential takeover bid last month, the people said.

An announcement of the appointment could be made as soon as Friday at Toshiba's earnings briefing, one of the people added.

The sources could not be named as the information had not yet been made public.

Toshiba said in a statement to Reuters that the appointment of advisers would help increase the transparency around its decision making.

"The board is independently appointing financial and legal advisers, and will strategically consider ways to increase our corporate value from an independent standpoint," it said in an emailed statement.

Toshiba has faced calls from its leading shareholders to explicitly seek offers from potential suitors and undergo a strategic review following a $20 billion buyout bid from CVC Capital Partners last month.

The future ownership of Toshiba, however, remains uncertain after CVC later said it would "step aside and await guidance" from the company after the Japanese conglomerate dismissed the bid as lacking in substance.

U.S. buyout firm Bain Capital is also considering a bid to take Toshiba private, Reuters reported last month, and has entered discussions with banks to secure funding for its potential deal. Bain had declined comment.

KKR & Co Inc and Canada's Brookfield Asset Management are also interested in Toshiba, sources have said. KKR and Brookfield had previously declined to comment on reports of potential bids.

A senior executive at one of Toshiba's main lenders said last month that several private equity funds had contacted his bank for potential financing to take the company private, but no talks are in progress.

CVC had approached Bain about a joint bid before its offer was made public but Bain was not interested, the first person said.

Bain has successfully tackled a major complex deal that involves Toshiba.

In 2017, it led a consortium with partners including South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix and Apple Inc to win an intense and long-fought battle for control of Toshiba's chip unit, now called Kioxia Holdings.

Toshiba retains around 40% of Kioxia. (Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki in Tokyo and Kane Wu and Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Jacqueline Wong)