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business

Top Toshiba investor calls for inquiry in widening votes scandal

17 Comments
By Makiko Yamazaki and Takashi Umekawa

Toshiba Corp's top investor has called for an investigation of a botched meeting in July at which it says several shareholders were deprived of their vote, a letter to the Japanese conglomerate's board seen by Reuters shows.

What began as a problem at Toshiba has widened into a larger scandal for corporate Japan, with the bank hired to count the votes, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, and Mizuho Trust, revealing details of counting errors at more than 1,300 firms.

Singapore-based Effissimo Capital Management, which owns around 10% of Toshiba, is the latest investor to join the outcry over the meeting, which has drawn attention to concerns about governance and treatment of foreign shareholders.

Effissimo and Toshiba both declined to comment on Thursday.

The letter from Effissimo comes after Toshiba this month said more than 1,000 postal voting forms for its July 31 meeting went uncounted. Another Singapore-based fund, 3D Investment Partners, has already called for an investigation, saying its vote had not been fully recognized.

Effissimo said in its letter, which was dated Sept. 23., that Toshiba's board should establish a committee made up exclusively of independent members to investigate whether the July meeting was conducted fairly.

"We have surveyed several dozen shareholders regarding this matter, and were able to confirm that there are in fact several shareholders that were unable to vote in a manner consistent with their intentions," Effissimo said.

BOTCHED MEETINGS

Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, which was entrusted with counting the shareholder mail-in votes for the Toshiba meeting, said on Thursday it had found 3.4 million uncounted shareholder votes at 975 client firms.

The trust banking arm of Mizuho Financial Group said it had found 22,848 voting forms were uncounted at 371 shareholder meetings where it had been involved in a joint venture with Sumitomo Mitsui Trust.

Although both banks said the uncounted votes would not have impacted the outcome of any shareholder meetings, the scale of the miscounting is likely to concern investors.

The 1,346 companies at which vote-counting problems were found were almost all listed companies, the banks said, or roughly one-third of listed companies in Japan.

"We deeply apologise for the mishandling of the vote counting," said Atsushi Kaibara, a senior official at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust, as he and another executive bowed in front of reporters at a news conference.

The bank attributed the miscounts to procedures during the peak season for shareholder meetings. To get more time to count the forms, it usually asks the post office to deliver them a day earlier, it has said.

But it would not issue receipts until the day after forms were delivered, meaning that some were mistaken for being past the deadline even though they were delivered on time, it said.

The procedure has been used for a "significantly long time," Kaibara said, adding the bank was now doing away with it.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

17 Comments
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Toshiba is practically a dead company. No amendments can keep it alive as long as it keeps its archaic Japanese management system. That's what happens to you when the world moves quickly around you and you arrogantly refuse to change.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

Agree with R.T.

Death by a thousand cuts for Toshiba. Poor management and governance as well.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

has called for an investigation of a botched meeting in July at which it says several shareholders were deprived of their vote, a letter to the Japanese conglomerate's board seen by Reuters shows

No arrest were being made? It's Reuters who reveal this story where's Japanese media?

12 ( +12 / -0 )

The bank attributed the miscounts to procedures during the peak season for shareholder meetings. To get more time to count the forms, it usually asks the post office to deliver them a day earlier, it has said.

The people in charge SHOULD be detained, without bail, and charged with destroying the public trust!

But they wont, as it's just another day at the office!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

No arrest were being made? It's Reuters who reveal this story where's Japanese media?

The nationalist fan club won't do anything to tarnish the clean image of the country.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

My interpretation of this article is that it the banks handling of the vote counting to be the ones at fault. Correct me if I am wrong please?

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Colour me NOT surprised!!!

Seriously, does anyone think J-companies are NOT going to try to sabotage stocks that are owned by non-Japanese interests if they are looking for change etc, I would absolutely EXPECT this kind of behavior from a ""Japanese"" company.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Toshiba has a long history of corruption. And their goods, while they appear to be good value, are absolute crap!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@dukeleto - yes, it was the 2 banks who were at fault.

But also look at the role of METI, who delayed approval of some overseas voters until the day before, claiming national security grounds, effectively deterring any activitist voting.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/08/11/business/corporate-business/japan-kept-activist-investor-limbo-key-toshiba-vote-sources-say/

6 ( +6 / -0 )

You can invest in Japan, but your vote won't count. Sounds familiar.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

It's Reuters who reveal this story.

Because Reuters has a business arm that does business with foreign firms. Singapore-based Effissimo Capital Management does business with Reuters so Effissimo is using Reuters to attack Toshiba. The facts are that Effissimo did not have the voters and they know it.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Another typical Japanese company?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

No Ghosn style arrests made I see

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Toshiba has been producing rubbish products for decades and its busienss style has been equal to the task.

Should have been thrown in the bin decades ago.

Vowed along time ago to never ever go anywhere near another Toshiba product E V E R !

This confirms my decision and they go in the same same scrap heap as Nissan you will never notice what you been Missin

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Let me summarize Japan Corp for the uninitiated just to give context to the article: government regulation and/or intervention is non-existent, nepotism and shady underhanded practices are rampant, corporate governance is unheard of and ignored, HR and management practices are based on backstabbing, blaming, micromanagement and bullying employees literally into death, labor laws are ignored and even in the case of labor related trials they are pretty much useless because they don't penalize the business representatives enough. Welcome to Japan. Enjoy.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What kind of work level is this ???.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is why most of foreign investors are retreating away from Japan in packs, except the Chinese and American big investors.

The Chinese do the CCP things, political subversion and domination. The Chinese don't quite care about the profits of running companies much. They only care about the assets and political perks coming with it. Additionally, Chinese investors can muscle their Chinese triads to hire Yakuza nannies to resolve issues quickly. Perhaps, the foreign investors of Toshiba should have done the same.

American big investors, like Warren Buffett or Paul Singer, are seeking two things. The currency hedge or strategic assets liquidation. In the case of Warren Buffett, he is looking for the currency hedge through the purchase of 5 Japanese big sogo shoshas. Japanese stocks are dirt cheap as well, so he is anticipating the possible decline of USD against the Russia-China new Petrodollar regime. He fears a currency Cold War, so he simply diversified his investments, and only big guys in the West can pull this trick. Secondly, the strategic assets liquidation is what Paul Singer and his friends have been doing across the world. They purchase the Japanese assets, mostly real estates or IPs, then they inflate the prices to sell back to American/European investors for higher profits. Classical vulture activities, of course! However, Paul Singer also pursues an unusual strategy to secure his control over SoftBank, the core asset of telecommunications in Japan. If Paul Singer managed to take over SoftBank, he literally owns a money printing machine that dominates all of Japan. This type of asset is never ever going to be liquidated, and it can also leverage political influence which Paul Singer is a master of suchs.

In conclusion, any foreign investor should contact Trump and lobby the EU Parliament/US Congress to force Japan changing for the better through corporate and economic sanctions. That's the only way that one can make Japan a feasible place for foreign investors.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

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