Toshiba warns it may not survive its financial crisis
HONG KONG (CNNMoney) — Toshiba’s financial crisis deepened Tuesday after the troubled Japanese company warned its future is at risk.
The giant conglomerate said that there is “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue as a going concern and that it’s taking steps to deal with the situation.
Toshiba has been hammered by huge losses at its American nuclear business, Westinghouse Electric, which filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. last month.
After twice missing earlier deadlines, Toshiba on Tuesday reported a net loss of 648 billion yen ($5.9 billion) for the quarter ended in December. But in an unprecedented move for a major Japanese company, Toshiba filed the report without the approval of its outside auditors.
Japanese regulators must now decide whether Toshiba’s report is enough even without the auditors’ signoff. If not, the struggling conglomerate could face delisting from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Here’s where things stand:
Delayed earnings and delisting threat
The refusal by auditor PwC Aarata to sign off on Toshiba’s earnings report is another embarrassing blow for the Japanese conglomerate, which is trying to reassure creditors and shareholders that it can survive its current crisis.
Westinghouse has suffered billions of dollars in losses due to cost overruns and construction delays at nuclear plant projects in Georgia and South Carolina.
The U.S. unit’s bankruptcy means Toshiba will eventually be able to remove it from its accounts. But the Japanese company has warned that dumping Westinghouse could drag it to a net loss of 1 trillion yen ($9 billion) for the fiscal year that ended in March.
It said it could end up reporting a negative net worth of 620 billion yen ($5.6 billion) as of the end of March.
PwC refused to sign off on the earnings report Tuesday because it is still studying the results of investigations into Westinghouse’s takeover of nuclear construction company CB&I Stone & Webster in 2015, Toshiba said Tuesday.
Regulators in Japan will have to decide if the delays and disarray mean Toshiba, one of the country’s best known multinational corporations, should suffer the humiliation of having its shares taken off the stock exchange.
Selling off the crown jewels
To try repair its balance sheet, Toshiba is now selling a majority stake in its prized computer chip business. CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa has said he expects the unit to fetch at least 2 trillion yen ($18 billion).
Taiwan-based Foxconn, one of Apple’s biggest suppliers, has offered as much as 3 trillion yen ($27 billion), according to The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. Toshiba declined to comment on the reports, and Foxconn didn’t respond to a request for comment.
But the Japanese government is keen to keep Toshiba’s hi-tech business in country, according to local media, and has called on domestic companies to form an investment partnership and bid for a stake in the memory chips business.
Toshiba said Tuesday that despite the doubts about whether it can remain a going concern, the sale of the chip business and other assets would enable it to stay financially sound.
What happens to Westinghouse?
Westinghouse’s bankruptcy filing has raised questions about what will happen to the storied U.S. company.
Toshiba says it will have no influence over who buys its majority stake in Westinghouse. That will happen under the supervision of the bankruptcy court “and we will not be involved in that,” Tsunakawa told reporters last month.
That sale process could fuel concerns in the U.S. government, which reportedly wants to ensure domestic nuclear capabilities don’t end up being bought by a Chinese firm.
Westinghouse is already building reactors in China. Buying the struggling American company could provide China with technology it needs to become a leading player in nuclear power.