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Foreign Bids For Toshiba Will Not Be Blocked By Japan Provided They Meet Security Requirements

Foreign Bids For Toshiba Will Not Be Blocked By Japan Provided They Meet Security Requirements
Japan's economic security minister, Takayuki Kobayashi, has stated that foreign investors will not be barred by the government from purchasing industrial giants of the country such as Toshiba Corp if the foreign investors follow laws that govern the handling of critical infrastructure and technology.
When asked if officials would intervene in any foreign proposal for Toshiba, Kobayashi replied in an interview, "Economic activity is free."
"We respond appropriately in compliance with Japanese laws and regulations when there are security concerns," he stated.
Foreign private equity groups are vying for taking control of the beleaguered Toshiba, which will be a test of Japan's willingness to allow one of its well-established domestic corporations to be taken over by foreigners.
Even while there is a surge in tensions with China, Japan has been expanding its oversight of key technologies that it possesses.
Kobayashi cited Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's speech to bankers and investors in London earlier this month, in which he had laid out a plan for the expansion of the world's third-largest economy through active encouragement of investments by the private sector and redistribution of wealth.
Toshiba, which has companies and business interests as well as technologies in a ride array of areas including nuclear energy, military radar, infrastructure, and semiconductors, announced on May 13 that eleven investors had expressed interest in a potential purchase of the company. Although it did not identify any of the potential suitors, reports quoting sources said that the names include US private equity companies Bain, Blackstone, and KKR to be among the leaders in the biding.
Toshiba, which has been rocked by accounting problems and a governance crisis, has formed a committee to examine into the options of taking the company private as well as other options. A management-backed reorganisation plan was previously rejected by the shareholders of the company.
Toshiba's executives conspired with Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry to prevent the influence of foreign owners, according to a shareholder-commissioned report published a year ago. Minister of the METI, Koichi Hagiuda, refused to order a probe into the accusation.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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