Sogo Co. on Tuesday held its first shareholders’ meeting since it released a restructuring plan that involves some 73 creditor firms forgiving the ailing department store operator some 639 billion yen in debts.
During the meeting, held at the retailer’s Osaka flagship store, the plan was formally presented and Sogo officials apologized to shareholders and vowed to resurrect the company.
The firm also announced the resignation of adviser Eiichi Iwamura, which came on the heels of Chairman Hiroo Mizushima’s dismissal.
Sogo’s fate lies largely in the hands of its creditors and sources close to the firm, which is still suffering from poor sales, acknowledge that negotiations are not going smoothly.
Some 73 financial institutions, including the Industrial Bank of Japan, its main creditor, are being asked to forgive loans to the department store operator.
But due to the poor prospects for Sogo’s recovery — even with the buttressing efforts — most banks have been dragging their feet in offering support.
Nevertheless, a senior IBJ official who helped draw up Sogo’s restructuring plan expressed confidence that all financial firms involved in the plan would agree, with the exception of the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, which is now in foreign hands.
The banks have no choice but to go along with the debt forgiveness because the damage would be worse if Sogo has to be liquidated, IBJ sources said.