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Toshiba Undecided on Privatization Amid Talks With Investors

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(Bloomberg) -- Toshiba Corp.’s board is yet to reach a decision on whether the troubled conglomerate should pursue going private, as talks with investors on the company’s strategic direction continue.

The board “has not yet decided on the most appropriate course of action and is continuing to explore feasible strategic alternatives,” Toshiba said Wednesday. Its panel exploring strategic alternatives has been engaged in active dialogue with potential investors, but there are “multiple issues” related to a potential privatization to be resolved, the company said.

Toshiba started weighing options including privatization in May after weeks of takeover discussions sparked by private equity firm CVC Capital Partners’ $21 billion acquisition bid. Investors including 3D Investment Partners have pressured the Japanese energy-to-electronics conglomerate to conduct a full strategic review and explore any serious interest in the company to rebuild shareholder trust.

Shares of Toshiba were little changed in early afternoon trading in Tokyo. They have advanced about 5% since the company kicked off the review, saying that it had appointed UBS as financial adviser and that it would consider potential offers. The company deemed the CVC proposal insufficiently detailed to evaluate.

The search for a new chief executive officer is progressing, with the company saying it’ll narrow down a list of candidates in the coming months. Its previous CEO, Nobuaki Kurumatani, stepped down in April after he suffered a sharp drop in support from employees and executives. In June, shareholders voted to oust Chairman of the Board Osamu Nagayama in a rare triumph for activist investors.

Once a storied name in Japan, Toshiba has faded dramatically after years of management missteps. It paid a record fine in an accounting scandal and then lost billions on a bungled foray into nuclear power. The conglomerate invented flash memory three decades ago, but was forced to sell most of its prized chip business in 2018 because of losses in its nuclear-power operation.

(Updates with share reaction in fourth paragraph.)

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