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Toshiba said it had received interest from ten potential partners, paving the way for an uphill battle between Bain Capital, KKR, Blackstone and other investors to take the scandal-ridden Japanese conglomerate private.
The group, which has a market value of $18.3 billion, said Friday it was seeking non-binding proposals, which bidders had until May 30 to submit. The company recently set up a special committee to explore a buyout option to resolve its longstanding standoff with activist shareholders.
The number of approaches underscores the intense interest in a potential deal, which would be the largest ever in Japan and a historic moment for private equity.
But analysts say the main challenge for bidders is forming a consortium that would be acceptable to Japanese regulators. Toshiba’s activities extend to sensitive areas such as nuclear energy, defense and semiconductors.
As the company sought to emerge from its long period of turmoil and financial difficulties, there were signs of continued division within Toshiba.
Just hours before announcing its slate of directors, the company canceled its press conference, saying it needed more time to propose nominees before next month’s annual general meeting.
Investors are awaiting Toshiba’s nominee for the new chairman of the board to replace Satoshi Tsunakawa, who served in the interim role.
Toshiba also said Friday that it has hired JPMorgan and Mizuho as financial advisers in addition to Nomura. She provided detailed information about her business and finances to the ten candidates who submitted a promise of confidentiality.
Several investors have expressed interest in taking the 140-year-old conglomerate private. In April, Bain won qualified backing for a deal to buy Toshiba’s largest shareholder, Singaporean investment fund Effissimo, though it’s unclear who its Japanese partner would be.
Besides Bain, KKR, another US private equity group, is discussing a joint bid with Blackstone.