Japan govt pension fund sues Toshiba

Mr Tsunakawa, Toshiba's new chief executive, said he would stick with the target of building 45 nuclear power reactors globally by March 2031, despite some analysts saying the target is too ambitious.
Mr Tsunakawa, Toshiba's new chief executive, said he would stick with the target of building 45 nuclear power reactors globally by March 2031, despite some analysts saying the target is too ambitious.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

TOKYO • Japan's US$1.3 trillion (S$1.7 trillion) Government Pension Investment Fund is suing Toshiba for losses on its investments after an accounting scandal sent the conglomerate's shares plunging.

GPIF is seeking damages of about 900 million yen (S$11.5 million), said Mr Shinichiro Mori, a spokesman for the fund. The losses relate to shares bought by GPIF's external fund managers in 2009 through a secondary share offering, he said.

"We bought the shares seven years ago and that's how much we've calculated our losses on those holdings to be," Mr Mori said yesterday.

Toshiba has been plagued by record losses and executive resignations after unveiling years of padded profits at the conglomerate, which makes everything from computers to nuclear power equipment. Shares have tumbled more than 40 per cent since April last year, when it withdrew its earnings forecast and announced an accounting probe that was later expanded.

GPIF has sought to bolster its stewardship of the nation's pension savings amid a broader push by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to make investors more engaged with the companies that they invest in.

The country introduced guidelines for shareholders in 2014, which GPIF has pledged to follow, and started a corporate governance code last year.

Mizuho Asset Management fund manager Takashi Aoki said: "Having such a big presence behind this lawsuit is going to pressure others to follow, and also make company executives more aware of governance at their firms. It's also going to put off other institutional investors from buying Toshiba shares."

Mr Mori said Japan Trustee Services Bank, which holds the Toshiba stock on behalf of GPIF, filed the suit at the Tokyo District Court on May 6. Toshiba spokesman Yuu Takase confirmed this, but declined to comment further as the case is pending.

In 2005, GPIF sued Seibu Railway after shares slumped, following revelations it falsified financial statements, and won 14.2 billion yen in July last year. The retirement manager also filed a suit against Livedoor in December 2006 and won 4.4 billion yen in 2012.

Meanwhile, Toshiba's newly appointed chief executive Satoshi Tsunakawa said yesterday he would stick with the target of building 45 nuclear power reactors globally by March 2031, dismissing scepticism among analysts who say the target is too ambitious. "It's achievable," he stated, a day after assuming the top post.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2016, with the headline 'Japan govt pension fund sues Toshiba'. Print Edition | Subscribe