Shareholders Spark Confusion Over Toshiba Restructuring, Print Industry Unaffected

It’s business as usual for Toshiba TEC despite EGM threats

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01/12/2021

Renée Clarke

 

Toshiba is on a path to transform themselves as a major conglomerate, a move that will be accompanied by job losses and temporary hiccups during the strategy refocus period. Following suspicions that Toshiba has acted unlawfully to influence a “rock-solid shareholder vote” in July 2020 by swaying , according to Inverszone, some stakeholders are requesting an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to re-evaluate the fairness of July’s general meeting. Other activist demands include providing “a clearer explanation of merger and acquisition demands,” reports Financial Times. EGMs are very rare in Japan and the request for them puts Toshiba in uncharted water. Despite facing unprecedented external backlash and internal adjustment, however, the conglomerate’s print division is carrying on unaffected.

 

Toshiba’s Internal Strides

The Toshiba Next Plan is a five-year strategy that began in 2018. One component is horizontal restructuring, which divides the conglomerate into six branches: Energy Systems and Solutions, Infrastructure Systems and Solutions, Building Solutions, Retail and Printing Solutions, Electronic Devices and Storage Solutions, and Digital Solutions. Toshiba TEC (the document solutions arm of Toshiba) is now nestled under the Retail & Printing Solutions branch.

 

The strategy also includes top level goals to transition to an infrastructure services company using cyber physical system (CPS) technology as well as an as-a-service model. CPSs are mechanisms monitored by algorithms, like the Internet of Things (IoT) tech but ultimately functioning on a much higher level. The shift from a technology company to an infrastructure services and becoming a CPS-focused company marks important recovery steps following the financial losses and scandals of 2015 and 2017. A planned withdrawal from non-core business activities has already been completed, but the integration (or disintegration) of 50% of the 388 subsidiaries remains.

 

Toshiba’s Six-Branch Organizational Structure

 

Toshiba TEC Progresses

Toshiba is less dependent on the printing industry than other players. For instance, more than half of Ricoh’s revenue comes from office printing whereas Toshiba only accounts 13%. Although their printing arm is currently “being monitored” internally, that does not necessarily imply risk. However, it may suggest that things are not rosy or perhaps even that a group could be sold off to bring cash into the company. Print had flat sales FY 2019 vs. FY 2020 (1%) with an operating loss. According to the 2020 Integrated Report, “Toshiba TEC’s printing business has also made good progress on restructuring efforts,” assuaging concerns for the print industry.

 

Moving Forward

Toshiba has shown a great example of putting a CEO, Nobuaki Kurumatani, in place from outside of their space who is inspiring change within. As their restructuring and investigation continues, a measure of uncertainty has been reported within the company and Goldman Sachs has been asked to continue its role as adviser on defence against shareholder activism. At least for now, outside speculation against the company does not have any impact on Toshiba’s printing operations.

 

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