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Toshiba in turmoil

Toshiba and GE breakups ask: Is the age of conglomerates over?

Japan group reflects investor clout, as empires pushed to justify sprawling ops

Toshiba has experienced a fraught relationship with shareholders, who voted down the reappointment of the company's old chairman this year.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- As Toshiba prepares to split its operations into three distinct, listed companies, the group's fraught relationship with activist shareholders has come into sharp relief once again.

Though Toshiba may become the first Japanese blue chip to choose this option, it is far from alone worldwide. Just one day after Toshiba's plan became public, General Electric said Tuesday it also will break into three entities. Yet track records for such split-ups are mixed, and whether Toshiba can boost its overall value through the move remains to be seen.

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