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Hitachi’s $18 Billion Divestment Drive Kept Activists at Bay

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Toshiaki Higashihara at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo.
Toshiaki Higashihara at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo.Photographer: Shoko Takayasu/Bloomberg

Long before activist investors swooped into Japan to shake up conglomerates saddled with losses and legacy assets, Hitachi Ltd. managed to do it on its own, selling off more than $18 billion worth of businesses in the past five years under Chief Executive Officer Toshiaki Higashihara.

The result? A market value that’s more than doubled to 6.2 trillion yen ($54 billion), second only to Sony Group Corp. among Japanese electronics makers and roughly equal to the next two competitors — Panasonic Corp. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. — combined.