Thailand: Toshiba reassures local customers

Toshiba Thailand is telling customers its business will not be affected by Toshiba Corporation’s recent acceptance of a buyout offer for about ¥2 trillion (500 billion baht) from a group led by domestic private equity firm Japan Industrial Partners Inc (JIP).

Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, chairwoman of Toshiba Thailand Co, yesterday said she remained confident in the company’s future even with the parent’s ownership changing.

According to a Bloomberg report, last Thursday the Tokyo-based company’s board approved the JIP offer.

The next step is a tender offer expected in late July, with the exact schedule to be announced later.

The move could bring down the curtain on years of turbulence at the storied Japanese firm after a series of scandals plunged it into difficulty, setting it on the path to a sale.

If the sale goes through, it will be one of the largest transactions in Asia this year at a time when deal volumes have plunged. It will also be one of the biggest private equity-led buyouts in Japan, according to Bloomberg.

“The buyout offer is unlikely to impact Toshiba business in Thailand because the Toshiba home appliance business has been allowed to operate independently, growing by itself and improving its competitiveness for decades,” Mrs Kobkarn said.

She said even though Midea of China joined the management of Toshiba Lifestyle Products and Services (TLSC) in recent years through a majority stake, Toshiba Thailand still operates and manages its business independently.

Midea also supports the business strategy of Toshiba Thailand, said Mrs Kobkarn.

“Midea Group continues to invest in Thailand in Toshiba refrigerators, washing machines and small appliances, including a plan to open a new Midea air conditioning factory in Thailand soon,” she said.

“We believe the new deal will not impact our future.”

The Toshiba home appliances business has been managed by Toshiba Thailand Co since August 1969.

According to a statement from Toshiba Thailand, in which Toshiba Corp holds a minority stake of 9.2%, Toshiba products will continue to be manufactured based on Japanese standards, while Toshiba Thailand plans to further develop and expand its product line-up, conduct marketing activities and promote Toshiba products.

Buoyed by such activities, Toshiba home appliance sales in Thailand have been soaring.

The company enhanced its services, increased the number of service centres and organised corporate social responsibility activities, according to Toshiba Thailand.

Toshiba Corporation in Japan was founded in 1875. It operates several businesses globally such as energy, infrastructure, data storage, community solutions, and visual, IT, notebook and home appliances, with products and services available worldwide.

On March 30, 2016, Toshiba and Midea signed a contract to transfer 80.1% of TLSC shares to Midea. TLSC operates Toshiba’s home appliances business.

According to the statement, Midea Group will continue to promote and invest in Thailand. It operates two factories through Thai Toshiba Electric Industries Co and Toshiba Consumer Products (Thailand) Co to manufacture home appliances under the Toshiba brand in Thailand.

The two factories produce refrigerators, washing machines, kitchen products, and other home appliances based on Japanese standards for distribution in Thailand and export to the international market.

Moreover, Midea Group invested in a factory that manufactures Midea air conditioners for distribution in Thailand and other Asian countries.