Toshiba shareholders voted to oust the board’s chairman on Friday, in the latest twist for the company after scandals and losses and a rare victory for activist investors in corporate Japan.
CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa said shareholders had voted down a bid to reappoint Osamu Nagayama and a firm’s audit committee member. This result surprised some observers in Japan’s often-staid corporate environment.
It came despite Tsunakawa offering his backing for the chairman of the board and pledging to work on re-establishing trust after the damaging revelations of an independent probe. In a statement announcing the results, Toshiba said only that it “recognises the seriousness of the rejection of some candidates for directors.”
Earlier this month, an inquiry found that the troubled industrial conglomerate “devised a plan to effectively prevent shareholders from exercising their shareholder proposal rights and voting rights” at a meeting in July 2020.
At which the activist shareholders’ resolutions were rejected, the meeting was “not fairly managed”, the 140-page report concluded. It also detailed how Toshiba had pursued an intervention from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to help sway the vote. The probe was only launched after pressure from shareholders.
Toshiba apologised after the report and said it would remove two directors but declined to address the allegations it attempted to collude with the government on votes.
The firm has been through months of turmoil, which only deepened after an unexpected buyout offer in April from a private equity fund associated with then-CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani.
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