Japan's nuclear crisis may lead to a government takeover of Tokyo Electric Power, Berkshire Hathaway loses a top manager, and more
Tokyo Electric Power: Will It Be Nationalized?
Tokyo Electric Power's shareholders may be wiped out by cleanup costs and liabilities from the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. After the Mar. 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, the company's shares fell 78 percent, as of Mar. 31. If the crisis and cleanup last two years, Tepco may face claims of up to $132 billion that could result in a government takeover, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC). Still, Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, who took charge after President Masataka Shimizu was hospitalized for high blood pressure, said on Mar. 30 that he wants the power utility to remain a private company.
Berkshire Hathaway: A Top Lieutenant Steps Down
David Sokol, one of Warren Buffett's top managers, resigned on Mar. 28. Sokol bought about 96,000 Lubrizol shares before recommending Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) take over the company. In a statement, Buffett said he didn't ask Sokol to resign and that the purchases weren't unlawful. Lubrizol's (LZ) stock is up 30 percent since the Mar. 14 announcement of the $9 billion deal. The value of Sokol's shares, if he still holds them, is up by some $3 million. Calls to MidAmerican Energy, where Sokol was chairman, weren't immediately returned.
Dean Foods: Dairy Giant Settles Antitrust Lawsuit
Dean Foods (DF), the No. 1 U.S. milk producer, agreed to sell a processing plant in Waukesha, Wis., to settle a lawsuit alleging its ownership of that facility would adversely affect the retail price of milk in the state. Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and the U.S. Justice Dept. filed a federal lawsuit last year challenging Dean's 2009 acquisition of the plant. Dean will also sell its Golden Guernsey and La Vaca Bonita milk brands as part of the settlement. Dean says it settled to avoid further legal costs and uncertainty for the business.
International Consolidated Airlines: Eyeing a Japan Investment
International Consolidated Airlines Group, formed from the merger of British Airways and Spain's Iberia, says it may consider investing in Japan Airlines following JAL's exit from bankruptcy on Mar. 28. Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp. of Japan, the state-backed fund that led the bailout, holds 97 percent of JAL's voting rights and aims to sell its stake by early 2013. Asia-Pacific passenger traffic may account for 30 percent of the global total by 2014, up from 26 percent, according to the International Air Transport Assn.
Siemens: Lights Out at the Conglomerate
Siemens (SI) plans to sell shares in its Osram lighting unit later this year, spinning off a business with 40,000 employees and sales of $6.6 billion in 2010. The move to cede control of the 105-year-old unit, a plan approved by Siemens's board on Mar. 28, underscores CEO Peter Löscher's push to refocus the company on health care, energy, infrastructure, and industrial equipment. An IPO of Osram, which has an enterprise value of $7 billion to $10 billion, would be one of Germany's biggest listings in a decade.
On the Move
— Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers: Former eBay (EBAY) CEO Meg Whitman appointed strategic adviser
— News Corp. (NWS): James Murdoch named deputy COO
— Dana Holding (DAN): Roger Wood of BorgWarner (BWA) to be CEO, effective Apr. 18