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Toshiba says it's talking to 10 suitors about possible sale

Hires external advisors to bolster decision making capacity and hints it could consider multiple buyout plans

Ailing Japanese giant Toshiba has revealed it has 10 potential suitors for its possible sale.

A Friday announcement revealed that Toshiba's decision to consider a sale to a private buyer has progressed to the point at which discussions are under way with §0 parties who have expressed an interest in submitting a proposal to buy the company.

Those talks have become sufficiently serious that Toshiba has appointed two sets of advisors – from Mizuho Securities and JP Morgan Securities – to offer financial advice and assist the special committee Toshiba assembled to consider offers.

The identities of the suitors are not disclosed in the announcement, but Bain Capital has already expressed an interest in a transaction. Financial press have reported interest from the likes of CVC Capital Partners and KKR.

Toshiba's filing states that the company will consider "one or more" proposals after the May 30 deadline for submissions and before the company's annual general meeting. That get-together was previously scheduled for June 25, but now cannot be found on Toshiba's investor relations calendar – perhaps suggesting more than 25 days will be needed to sort through whatever the 10 suitors propose.

Toshiba's admission that it may consider multiple proposals is interesting. Management devised two plans to split the company in the hope that letting some of the mega-corp's businesses operate alone could unlock value. Both plans were opposed by substantial shareholders and therefore shelved, and that opposition led to the current.

Whatever happens, and whenever it happens, investors, employees, and other stakeholders will be hoping it caps a miserable decade for Toshiba during which it has endured the meltdown of its nuclear power business, an accounting scandal, a the ouster of board members over governance issues, and allegations of corrupt dealings with Japan's government. ®

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