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Canon to step up payoff of Toshiba Medical deal debt

by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter | January 22, 2018
Business Affairs
Thanks to strong earnings, Canon now plans a speedier payoff of its interest-bearing debt than it did in 2017. It has put aside $1.79 billion to double its repayments in 2018.

The aim is to boost its financial strength and cut back on some of its borrowed funds, including from the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, coming from the pricey 2016 Toshiba Medical buy, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

Canon upped its earnings forecast three times in 2017, according to the business news publication.

Presently it is projecting a bump-up in net profit by 60 percent, to $2.212 billion. That's on sales that are up 20 percent, to $36.842 billion, including from core businesses like cameras and office gear, as well as its newly bulked-up medical equipment division, according to Asian Review.

The $6 billion-plus 2016 Toshiba Medical Systems buy saw the company's interest-bearing debt hit $5.536 billion by year end, up from just a year-earlier 1.5 billion.

Part of the reason behind the move, says the publication, could be a Moody's Japan June 2016 downgrade that dropped Canon from Aa1 to Aa3. At the time, the rating agency cited the increased leverage from the Toshiba deal. Before that, Canon was the only solely Japanese firm with a rating about Aa2.

In an Asian Week interview about future plans in early January, Chairmen Fujio Mitarai said that Canon was aiming in the medium term – to 2020 – to make at least $44.1 billion in consolidated sales.

“It is definitely not impossible if we maintain the current economic situation and stable exchange rates,” he told the publication, explaining that, “I see cameras contributing over 30 percent and office equipment another 40 percent, while new business segments, with health care at the center, will account for the rest.”

He said that the biggest challenge for the firm was “to raise our antennas high, toward cutting-edge technology,” adding, “it is on this point where we lag behind other companies.

He also advised that he would be making a specific innovation effort in the U.S.

“We will open up a research and development center in the U.S.'s Silicon Valley, where we will actively adopt new technology,” he said.

Canon's controversial Toshiba buy was crowned with an official name change to Canon Medical Systems in early January – a move announced in October, 2017.

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