TOKYO Toshiba Corp met creditors on Tuesday and asked them not to use provisions in debt agreements to call in their loans early, giving the troubled company time to work out a turnaround plan, sources with knowledge of the matter said.
It was the first such meeting since the conglomerate, which is still recovering from a $1.3 billion accounting scandal, shocked investors last month by announcing cost overruns at a U.S. nuclear business bought in 2015 which could now mean a charge against profit topping $4 billion.
About 80 creditors, including regional banks and life insurance companies, attended the meeting, said the sources, who declined to be identified as they were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly.
Toshiba executives briefed creditors about the background leading up to the massive writedown and the schedule of how it would work out the matter, the sources added.
The laptops-to-engineering conglomerate confirmed the meeting, but did not provide any further details.
Bankers said such a meeting was rather routine for a company in trouble and that, even though credit-rating downgrades after the writedown warning put Toshiba in violation of loan covenants, it was routine for them to grant waivers in such cases to avoid a funding crisis.
Toshiba is expected to hold its next meeting with creditors in February, when the company is scheduled to have finalised writedown figures, the sources said.
Toshiba's debts, including bonds, stood at about 1.2 trillion yen ($10.37 billion) as of the end of September.
Toshiba has to rely heavily on lenders to weather the latest trouble. The Japanese firm, which saw its shares plunge 33 percent last month, remains on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's watchlist, effectively making it impossible for it to raise fresh capital through new share issues.
Toshiba has started discussions on other ways to boost its depleted capital, including spinning off its crown-jewel chips business, other sources told Reuters.
"We must do all we can to improve our financial footing before we receive support from the banks," a senior Toshiba executive said.
The spinoff of the chips unit - which generates most of Toshiba's operating profit - was discussed last year when the company conducted a major overhaul after the accounting scandal.
The plan was scrapped as a $6 billion deal to sell its medical equipment unit to Canon Inc saved Toshiba from falling into negative net worth.
($1 = 115.7200 yen)
(Reporting by Taiga Uranaka, Makiko Yamazaki and Taro Fuse; Editing by Himani Sarkar)