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Toshiba to seek early implementation of $6bn buyback plan

Shareholders ask about growth strategy following sale of key flash memory unit

Toshiba shareholders arrive at the annual meeting on Wednesday in Chiba.

TOKYO -- Toshiba will implement a share buyback plan worth some 700 billion yen ($6.37 billion) as early as possible, the president of the Japanese industrial giant said Wednesday.

President Satoshi Tsunakawa said the company plans to implement the purchase of its shares that it announced June 13 "as early as we can" to enhance shareholder returns. For the purchase, Toshiba plans to use the proceeds from the recent sale of its flash memory unit, which totaled 2 trillion yen.

Tsunakawa was speaking at the company's general shareholders' meeting in Chiba, east of Tokyo.

During the meeting, shareholders voted to approve four motions, including the appointment of Nobuaki Kurumatani, who took office as chairman and CEO in April, as well as new directors and outside directors.

The June 1 completion of the sale of the flash memory unit marked the end of Toshiba's prolonged battle to rise from a severe financial crisis, after its U.S. nuclear power operation suffered huge losses.

During the meeting, shareholders asked about how the company plans to return to a growth track after losing the key unit.

The meeting lasted about two hours from 10 a.m. It was an hour shorter than last year's meeting.

This year's meeting was the first to see the participation of typically vocal activist shareholders who funded Toshiba's capital increase at the end of 2017. Overall, however, shareholders remained relatively silent, with few of them expressing frustration.

Nonetheless, Toshiba faces potentially mounting pressure to boost corporate value from foreign shareholders, who now make up about 70% of the total.

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