Toshiba Considers Replacing President, Company Official Says

Toshiba Corp., the Japanese maker of flash-memory chips, elevators and nuclear reactors, may replace President Norio Sasaki after a shareholder meeting in June, an official at the company said.

The board may name Corporate Senior Executive Vice President Hisao Tanaka, 62, to replace Sasaki, the official said Feb. 23, asking not to be identified because the decision hasn’t been made. Sasaki, who took over almost four years ago, would become vice chairman, and Chairman Atsutoshi Nishida would retain his post, the person said. Toshiba’s last three presidents all served for about four years, according to the company.

Sasaki has turned around Tokyo-based Toshiba since becoming CEO in June 2009, leading the company to two consecutive annual profits following a record 344 billion-yen ($3.7 billion) net loss in the year ended March 2009. The 63-year-old executive, who joined Toshiba in 1972, has used acquisitions to bolster the company’s smart-energy and chipmaking operations while paring its consumer-electronics businesses.

“I don’t think Toshiba will change dramatically following a change in president,” said Tsunenori Ohmaki, an analyst at Tachibana Securities Co. in Tokyo. “It will keep putting its effort into semiconductors and energy, while shrinking its home electronics operation.”

Toshiba Acquisitions

Toshiba bought San Antonio-based, energy-technology management company Consert Inc. for more than 1 billion yen this month, it said Feb. 7. It acquired Swiss electronic-metering company Landis+Gyr AG in 2011 to boost its energy-management sales.

The Nikkei newspaper reported the planned change on Feb. 23. Toshiba isn’t the source of the report and no decision has been made, Atsushi Ido, a company spokesman, said by phone.

Toshiba rose 2.7 percent to 423 yen as of the midday break in Tokyo trading, compared with a 2 percent gain for the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average. The chipmaker has gained 26 percent this year after advancing 7 percent in 2012.

Tanaka joined Toshiba in 1973 and has held his current title since June 2011, according to the company’s website.

“The change in president is not a surprise because four years have passed since Sasaki took office,” said Yukihiko Shimada, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.

Sasaki will become vice chairman of Keidanren, Japan’s biggest business lobby, the group said Feb. 12. He also is a member of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, a government advisory body that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revived in January.

Chip Prices

Toshiba posted a larger-than-expected profit for the three months ended Dec. 31 because of higher semiconductor prices, a weaker yen and rising sales of power equipment. Net income totaled 29.3 billion yen, the company said Jan. 31.

The company, the world’s second-biggest maker of flash memory, benefited from higher chip prices caused by production cuts, rising sales of mobile devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPads, and demand for gas-fired power stations following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident. The weaker yen boosted the value of overseas sales and assets.

Toshiba expects full-year net income of 110 billion yen, operating profit of 260 billion yen and sales of 6.1 trillion yen, it said Jan. 31.

The company is in talks to sell as much as 36 percent of its Westinghouse Electric atomic-power business after being forced to increase its stake in the unit to 87 percent. Toshiba was compelled to buy 20 percent of Westinghouse last month after Shaw Group Inc. used a push option to sell its stake.

Toshiba is one of the 40 biggest companies in Japan, with a market cap of about $19 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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