Canon Takes Lead in Bidding War for Toshiba Unit

Toshiba reportedly granted Canon preferential negotiating rights after it offered $6 billion for Toshiba's medical equipment business.
Katie Kuehner-HebertMarch 9, 2016

Japan’s Canon took pole position in a bidding war for Toshiba’s medical equipment unit as Toshiba granted it preferential negotiating rights over two rival suitors.

In a second round of bidding for Toshiba Medical Systems, Canon topped Fujifilm Holdings and a coalition of Konica Minolta and U.K. investment fund Permira with an offer of 700 billion yen ($6.2 billion), the Nikkei newspaper reported Wednesday.

Toshiba board members “believe the limited overlap between the two companies’ operations will lead to smooth antitrust proceedings,” Nikkei said.

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Canon and Toshiba declined to comment on the size of Canon’s offer.

“I think the bid is clearly positive for Toshiba if the number is right,” Damian Thong, a Macquarie Group analyst who previously assumed Toshiba Medical was worth no more than 400 billion yen, told Reuters.

Toshiba put the the world’s second-largest manufacturer of CT scan machines on the block to help pay for the fallout from the biggest accounting scandal in its 140-year history. The company has said it would post a loss of about 550 billion yen ($4.53 billion) for its fiscal year ending March 31.

Canon, meanwhile, has been seeking new sources of revenue as the rise of smartphones has eroded sales of its digital cameras. It already makes X-ray machines and eye examination devices and, in its five-year business plan published earlier this week, said it wants to strengthen its medical business.

“For someone who wants to be in this industry, this [Toshiba deal] is the single biggest chance,” a person involved in the bidding process told the Financial Times. “Without this scandal, this opportunity would never have emerged 10 years ago and it will never happen again for the next 10 years.”

IwaiCosmo Securities senior analyst Kazuyoshi Saito said Canon’s offer was “a little pricey,” but was “more reasonable than Hon Hai paying about the same for Sharp,” referring to the estimated $5.8 billion offer the Taiwanese company has made for the struggling Japanese electronics maker.