Toshiba delays results again, warns of $8.4 bln net loss

By AFP/Kyoko Hasegawa   May 15, 2017 | 05:05 pm GMT+7

Toshiba twice postponed nine-month earnings before it released unaudited results last month.

Troubled conglomerate Toshiba on Monday delayed its earnings for a third time since January, but warned it likely lost 950 billion yen ($8.4 billion) in the just-ended fiscal year, with fears growing about its survival.

The latest delay comes as one of Japan's best-known firms grapples with claims of financial misconduct at money-losing U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric, which is sitting in bankruptcy protection.

Monday's warning -- largely linked to the bloodletting at Westinghouse -- was, however, slightly better than an earlier projected net loss of 1.01 trillion yen for the year ended in March.

"We can't officially disclose the earnings as they're still being audited," Toshiba president Satoshi Tsunakawa told a news briefing in Tokyo Monday.

Toshiba -- still recovering from a 2015 accounting scandal -- has said it needed more time to probe claims of financial misconduct by senior managers at Westinghouse and to gauge the impact on its finances.

The investigation was started after a whistleblower complained that one or more executives at the U.S. unit exerted "inappropriate pressure" on its accounting.

The series of delays have stirred fears that Toshiba could be delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

The company now faces a deadline for the end of June to file its results with Japan's finance ministry, or face a possible end-of-July delisting.

But it is not clear if the firm's shares will be yanked from the exchange even if that date is missed.

Toshiba stock, which has lost more than 40 percent of its value since late December, rose 3.43 percent to 261.8 yen on Monday.

"The market does not feel that the exchange is pushing toward a delisting," Toshihiko Matsuno, chief strategist at SMBC Friend Securities, told AFP.

"If that was the case, the company would have been delisted a while ago, but the reality is that it's been put off for quite some time."

Lucrative chips

Monday's announcement comes as a sensitive time as Toshiba looks to sell its prized memory chip business.

The plan is facing opposition from Western Digital, which jointly runs Toshiba's key chip plant in Japan.

On Sunday, the U.S.-based firm said it is taking its case to the International Court of Arbitration, seeking an injunction to block Toshiba from selling the business to a third party.

Unloading the division, which accounts for about one-quarter of Toshiba's previous 5.6 trillion yen in annual revenue, is seen as key for the company to turn itself around.

The Japanese firm is the world's number two supplier of memory chips for smartphones and computers, behind South Korea's Samsung.

Numerous reports have suggested that Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision, better known as Foxconn, is offering some 3.0 trillion yen for the unit.

Google and Amazon as well as U.S. private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners and American chipmaker Broadcom are reportedly among the other interested suitors.

Any foreign buyer would need to pass a Japanese government review, given Japan's concerns about losing a sensitive technology and questions about security around systems already using Toshiba's memory chips. They are widely used in data centers as well as smartphones and computers.

The Financial Times reported that Tokyo is ready to guarantee up to 900 billion yen in bank loans if Toshiba chooses a domestic suitor or one with strong Japanese links.

"It would be no surprise if Japanese authorities take action to prevent Toshiba's memory chip technology from being transferred overseas," said Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute in Tokyo.

"The technology is quite attractive and lucrative."

Toshiba's huge losses come after its reputation was badly damaged over separate revelations that top company executives had pressured underlings to cover up weak results for years after the 2008 global financial meltdown.

The company -- which has 188,000 employees globally -- once touted its overseas nuclear business as a future growth driver, filling a hole left after the 2011 Fukushima crisis slammed the brakes on new atomic projects in Japan.

But delays and cost overruns have hit Westinghouse's finances hard, as the global outlook for the nuclear business weakens.

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