Toshiba in it's heyday!

‘Alright Tosh? Got a Toshiba?’

This was the famous UK advertising slogan of a once famous and proud Japanese business that later fell from grace. It became a 1980’s advertising hit for Toshiba in the UK.

There was a time when more than one of your TV’s, computers, laptop’s, Hi-Fi’s, speaker systems or other essential electronic goods would have been made by Toshiba.

Once an untouchable powerful conglomerate for Japan’s dominance in electronics – known as Japan Inc – the company for forced to delist, ending a 74-year history with Tokyo’s stock exchange.

So why did one of Japan’s most famous industrial names have such a spectacular fall from grace?

It all started in 2015 when accounting malpractices came to light, with many of them involving top management. For seven years, Toshiba had overstated its profits.

In 2020, Toshiba found further accounting irregularities

There were also allegations related to corporate governance. An investigation launched in 2021 found that Toshiba had colluded with Japan’s trade ministry – which saw Toshiba as a strategic asset – to suppress the interests of foreign investors.

At the time, analysts said this made foreign investors uncertain about investing in Japanese stocks, making it not just a Toshiba problem, but an issue for Japan’s entire stock market.

In late 2016, Toshiba said it would take charge of several billion dollars related to the construction of a nuclear power plant that U.S. unit Westinghouse Electric had bought a year earlier. Just months later, Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy leaving Toshiba facing a collapse of its nuclear business and more than $6bn in liabilities.


Toshiba sold off businesses including medical systems, mobile phones, and white goods try to thwart these difficulties. But it was later forced to place its flag ship chip unit, Toshiba Memory, up for sale – a deal that was delayed for a number of months over a dispute with one of its partners.

At a time when companies were investing heavily in the future of technology and innovation, Toshiba was having to sell off a prized asset to raise cash – a resentful place to be.

Cash injection

Toshiba managed to secure a $5.4bn cash injection at the end of 2017 from overseas investors, helping it avoid a forced delisting. But that meant shareholders had more of a say in the about the company.

That lead to protracted battles that paralysed the maker of batteries, chips and nuclear and defence equipment. After a great deal of debate over whether the company should split up into smaller companies, Toshiba set up a committee to explore whether it should be taken private.

In June 2022, Toshiba received eight buyout offers

Earlier in 2023, the company announced it would be taken over by a group of Japanese investors led by state-backed Japan Investment Corp (JIC) for $14bn. It’s not clear yet what the new owners plan for Toshiba – maybe AI products will come to the rescue?

Japan Investment Corp

JIP does reportedly have a positive track record in making businesses from big manufacturers including Sony’s laptop division and Olympus’s camera unit. After acquiring Sony’s Vaio laptop business in 2014, it helped the company achieve record sales last year.

But Toshiba is a much bigger company, it employs around 106,000 people and some of its operations are seen as critical to national security.

It has now de-listed and hopefully will find a way to re-gain back to its former glory.

The original extremely memorable and successful Toshiba advertising campaign from the 1980’s

The original extremely memorable and successful Toshiba advertising campaign from the 1980’s

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