Toshiba shares surged after the conglomerate confirmed Wednesday it had received an initial buyout offer from CVC Capital Partners, setting the stage for potentially the largest private equity-led acquisition in years.
The bid comes as Toshiba faces scrutiny from activists following a series of scandals, including a record fine for faulty accounting and billions of dollars in writedowns. But let’s not get too excited: Even if shareholders like the look of the deal, Japan could block the sale due to Toshiba’s involvement in a number of sensitive industries.
Whether or not a takeover ever happens, the surprise bid serves as a palpable demonstration of the growing influence in corporate Japan of activist investors, who have gone from largely impotent onlookers to kingmakers in the space of just a few years, as Bloomberg reports.
In other corporate tech news, messaging app provider Line Corp. has promised that data from its users in Japan, now being stored in South Korea, will be transferred to domestic databases to better protect customers’ info after data was exposed to a Chinese affiliate without user consent.
It’s hard to overstate Line’s ubiquity in Japan. It boasts 86 million users here — out of a population of 125 million — and the app has expanded into e-commerce, finance and health care. Luckily for Line, right now users in Japan don’t have anywhere else to go, but this affair will leave a mark on Line’s image and bottom line, writes Kazuaki Nagata.
The furor has also highlighted how international firms handling data across borders need to be acutely aware of privacy laws in other countries — like China — that could trigger national security concerns, writes Osamu Tsukimori.