Loss and profit. On March 26, 2021, an unusual event occurred in Japan: two weeks before the usual date, the cherry tree was suddenly covered with flowers. This kind of precocity has never been observed in Kyoto gardens with a thousand years of history. Climate change is one of the most popular ceremonies in the country. Japanese capitalism is undergoing another historic turmoil.
On April 7, Luxembourg investment fund Cinven and its American counterpart KKR announced the formal acquisition of the entire Toshiba Electronics and Energy Group for US$20 billion. The next day, American fund Bain Capital confirmed its intention to acquire Hitachi Metals, a metallurgical subsidiary of one of the country’s largest conglomerates.
These two news are not entirely surprising. Toshiba is trying to recover from the accounting scandal, which almost made it disappear, and Hitachi announced its intention to withdraw from its mechanical activities in order to reinvest in electronics and IT.
However, the identity of the purchaser, the Anglo-Saxon Investment Fund, indicates a major development in Japanese capitalism in the past decade. Just as the cherry blossoms are unstoppable on the calendar, the increase in the power of external shareholders is becoming more and more important in national corporate governance.
To the point where we know that the predators have landed in the United States and Europe. They are called KKR, Carlyle, Blackstone, Apollo, Simven, CVC. A famous book in 1989 called them savages (Barbarian at the door, HarperBusiness). These debt settlement experts LBO searched the United States in the 1990s, and then swept Europe in the 2000s, and now Japan is their top priority.