Bureau Chief, Helsinki
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May 15, 2015

At Sharp, decline marked by over-confidence, drift

TOKYO (Reuters) – In private conversations early last year, executives at Japanese display maker Sharp Corp dubbed their new client “winning horse”, reckoning fast-growing Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi would be a sure and lucrative bet.

Within months, however, Sharp found it was sharing Xiaomi revenue as upstart rival Japan Display also struck a deal to supply the Chinese firm with its “in-cell” displays.

May 14, 2015

Sharp gains $1.9 billion bailout but restructuring steps disappoint

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Sharp Corp said it had secured a $1.9 billion bailout, its second major bank-led rescue in three years, after falling deep into the red as its smartphone display business was battered by competition from Asian rivals.

But while new restructuring measures will include 5,000 job cuts or 10 percent of its global workforce as well as the sale of its headquarters, the steps were seen as not going far enough.

May 14, 2015

Japan’s Sharp unveils $1.9 bln bailout after large annual loss

TOKYO, May 14 (Reuters) – Japan’s Sharp Corp said
it had secured a $1.9 billion bailout, its second major bank-led
rescue in three years, after falling deep into the red as its
smartphone display business was battered by competition from
Asian rivals.

Mizuho Bank and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ
will inject a combined 200 billion yen ($1.7 billion)
in a debt-for-equity swap, Sharp said in a statement, a move
that will buy it time but is unlikely to allay worries about the
long-term viability of its display business.

May 14, 2015

Toshiba eyes three-year profit markdown in accounts probe; impact seen limited, shares up

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Toshiba Corp said an internal probe into accounting irregularities may mean it has to mark down three years of profit by about 7 percent, soothing investor fears the investigation might blow up into a bigger accounting scandal.

The industrial conglomerate’s shares rose as much as 5 percent in Tokyo after it said late on Wednesday it’s likely to mark down operating profit for the three years ended March 2014 by at least 50 billion yen ($420 million). At 0445 GMT, the stock was up 1.23 percent.

May 14, 2015

Toshiba eyes 3-yr profit markdown in accounts probe; impact seen limited, shares up

TOKYO, May 14 (Reuters) – Japan’s Toshiba Corp said
an internal probe into accounting irregularities may mean it has
to mark down three years of profit by about 7 percent, soothing
investor fears the investigation might blow up into a bigger
accounting scandal.

The industrial conglomerate’s shares rose as much as 5
percent in Tokyo after it said late on Wednesday it’s likely to
mark down operating profit for the three years ended March 2014
by at least 50 billion yen ($420 million). At 0445 GMT, the
stock was up 1.23 percent.

May 11, 2015

Sharp may slash capital, issue preferred shares; stock dives

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Sharp Corp (6753.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said it may reduce its capital and issue preferred shares as part of a planned restructuring, but worries about potential dilution from the new issuance and other possible fund raising sent its shares plunging 26 percent.Battered by competition from cheaper Asia rivals in its core liquid crystal panel display business, loss-making Sharp has been working with its main lenders on securing its second major bailout since 2012.

A slashing of its capital would allow Sharp to wipe accumulated losses off its books – a necessary step before the company can resume dividend payments. The prospect of dividends in the not-too-distant future is seen as key to getting its banks and other potential shareholders on board with a rescue deal expected to be worth at least $1.7 billion.

Apr 30, 2015

Resurgent Sony sees profit leaping on camera sensor sales, cost cuts

TOKYO, April 30 (Reuters) – Japanese consumer electronics
maker Sony Corp expects operating profit to more than
quadruple this year, as strong sales of camera sensors and cost
cuts anchor a long-awaited turnaround after years of losses on
TVs and mobile phones.

Sony said on Thursday it estimates operating profit will
jump in the year ending March 2016 to 320 billion yen ($2.7
billion). For the previous fiscal year, operating profit was
68.5 billion, in line with an April 22 forecast.

Apr 27, 2015

Japan’s Fanuc doubles payout ratio after investor Loeb demands higher returns

TOKYO, April 27 (Reuters) – Japanese industrial robot maker
Fanuc Corp said it was doubling its dividend payout
ratio, signalling an apparent win for activist U.S. investor
Daniel Loeb in calls on the debt-free firm to return more of its
growing cash pile to shareholders.

Reporting net profit jumped 87 percent in the 12 months
ended March on strong global demand for machine tools, Fanuc
said on Monday it plans to pay around 60 percent of consolidated
net income as dividend to shareholders. The previous target was
30 percent.

Apr 24, 2015

Sony’s Hirai faces attack from activist ‘old boys’: sources

TOKYO (Reuters) – A group of former top Sony Corp executives has delivered an unusually blunt critique to the firm’s chief executive Kazuo Hirai, accusing him of losing sight of innovation by focusing on cost-cutting.

At a meeting at Sony’s Tokyo headquarters last Thursday, five former executives, including PlayStation creator Ken Kutaragi, took Hirai to task for failing to encourage the kind of creativity that helped produce iconic gadgets such as the Walkman, according to three people familiar with the meeting.

Apr 16, 2015

Japan’s Sharp, banks near $1.7 billion bailout deal: source

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Sharp Corp and its main banks are set to agree on Thursday to a $1.7 billion rescue and restructuring plan that will likely include a promise to split off its ailing smartphone display business, a person involved in the discussions said.

As part of its second major bailout in three years, Sharp’s lenders, Mizuho Bank and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, will inject a combined 200 billion yen ($1.7 billion) in a debt-for-equity swap, the source said, declining to be identified as he is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.