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Toshiba Machine faces surprise bid from Murakami-linked investors

Company prepared to take defensive measures against tender offer

Toshiba Machine makes machine tools and die-casting equipment, among other products. 

TOKYO -- Industrial equipment maker Toshiba Machine said Friday that it has received notice that shareholders with ties to activist investor Yoshiaki Murakami will launch a bid to enlarge their nearly 11.5% stake.

Tokyo-headquartered Office Support told Toshiba Machine on Thursday that it would begin a tender offer for the manufacturer's shares this coming Tuesday, without disclosing how many shares it sought to buy or at what price, according to the statement.

Office Support "has made preparations for the tender offer without consultation and has given no explanation of its direction for management after the offer is carried out," Toshiba Machine said.

Tokyo-listed Toshiba Machine could take steps to thwart Office Support's move, such as a rights offering to other shareholders, if it determines the bid to be hostile.

Office Support, which lists Murakami's daughter Aya Nomura as a co-holder, began building a stake in Toshiba Machine in 2018. The investor is believed to seek new management at the machine tool maker and more efficient use of such assets as cash and factories.

Once under industrial group Toshiba, the manufacturer became independent in 2017 after repurchasing most of its parent's stake.

For Toshiba, the sale helped repair a balance sheet ravaged by losses at U.S. nuclear power unit Westinghouse. But Toshiba Machine lost a stable shareholder. Toshiba's holdings fell to less than 3% from around 20%.

Murakami, a former bureaucrat who rose to prominence as an activist investor, was convicted of insider trading here in 2007 over his fund's purchase of shares in Nippon Broadcasting System, the focus of a failed bid by internet company Livedoor.

He has continued his investment activity through a Singapore-based company.

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