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Courtesy: Toshiba

The Toshiba Medical Systems bidding war is taking shape

by Gus Iversen , Editor in Chief
Late last month, Toshiba shook the health care industry when it announced it would pursue the sale of a majority share in its medical equipment business. Since then, thanks primarily to an anonymous Reuters informant, some of the fog has lifted around who we can expect the serious contenders to be.

Some of the most likely purchasing candidates include familiar health care entities like Fujifilm, Konica Minolta, Canon, and Sony. In some cases those companies have teamed up with financial partners to place their bid.

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The news agency reported that a first round of bidding was expected to close today, January 29, with a second round pending.

The U.S. private equity firms, KKR & Co and Bain Capital have also reportedly thrown their hats in the mix, although some have speculated that the sale will likely go to a Japanese company — allowing the country to retain the economic benefits of the business.

Companies that were previously cited as contenders include Hitachi, Samsung and GE Healthcare — but it would appear that they are no longer likely suitors.

The Japan Times reported that Toshiba expects to gain some ¥500 billion (over $4 billion) if it sells 80 percent of Toshiba Medical Systems, according to sources.

While the size of the stake purchased will reportedly be determined in a second round of bidding, the sale of Japan's largest health care business is expected to carry a price tag in excess of $3 billion, according to the Reuters report.

With the exception of Canon, whose executive vice president and chief financial officer, Toshizo Tanaka, told reporters that the company "was raising its hand" for Toshiba Medical, the other potential bidders have not been publicly forthcoming about their intentions.

Toshiba is hoping to close the deal by the end of March and raise cash to help improve its financial standing as it undergoes restructuring, and aims to recover from accounting scandals involving exaggerating profits over six years.

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