Toshiba in chaos after bid to foil activist shareholders

Investigators concluded that Toshiba had colluded with agents of the Ministry of Commerce, often referred to as METI, to thwart Effissimo and various shareholders.

Their report describes efforts to stress Effissimo and two different massive shareholders of Toshiba, Singapore-based 3D Investment Partners, and the Harvard University endowment fund; defend Toshiba’s leader, Nobuaki Kurumatani; and protect the company’s most popular board of directors.

Toshiba, the report found, said METI officers are threatening shareholders with recently amended laws governing overseas investment in Japan, which are primarily believed to be an instrument to limit Chinese funding in sensitive industries. Company executives described a superb cop / dangerous cop technique whereby the department would “beat” Effissimo, after which Toshiba would provide a compromise.

Yoshihide Suga, who at the time was Mr Abe’s chief secretary to cabinet and is now prime minister, was briefed on the technique, the report said, and expressed his understanding that the laws could be used to stress Effissimo. . After opposition events in parliament pushed him over the issue, he denied being aware of the plans.

Stress techniques have failed to stop Effissimo. But they succeeded, according to the report, in dissuading the Harvard Fund from voting. Yet the final election result remained unchanged.

Chaos has since engulfed Toshiba. Four directors were successfully forced out of the board, and more heads are likely to show up at the company’s annual meeting of shareholders next week, as proxy advisory firms have urged traders to vote against the current administration.

Some analysts have said that a real indicator of Japan’s improvement in shareholder engagement could be whether any of the bureaucrats involved in the Toshiba case are held accountable.

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