Hitachi Ltd is considering a sale of its controlling stake in Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc that could ultimately lead to a takeover of the entire unit, people familiar with the matter said.
Hitachi Kokusai, which produces equipment for semiconductor makers and wireless-network gear manufacturers, has drawn interest from potential bidders, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. The deliberations are at an early stage, and Hitachi may decide against a sale, the people said. Hitachi Kokusai has a market value of about $1.9bn.
Hitachi, Japan’s second-largest manufacturer, is reviewing its portfolio amid a slowdown in demand from China as well as oil- and gas-producing countries, hit by low prices for crude. Chief executive officer Toshiaki Higashihara said in April that he plans to spin off non-core units while focusing on digital technology to help boost sales in its car parts, train and energy businesses. Hitachi owns just over 50% of Hitachi Kokusai.
Hitachi Kokusai’s sales for the year ended in March fell 2.4% to ¥180.7bn ($1.8bn), according to the company’s annual report. Net income dropped 26% to ¥13bn.
The company said it failed to meet its targets for its video and wireless network segment last year because of “rapid change in the business environment.” The eco- and thin-film processing unit, which serves the semiconductor industry, reported its highest-ever sales, the company said. “We are always considering various measures to strengthen the company,” said Masayuki Takeuchi, a Tokyo-based representative for Hitachi, declining to comment further. A representative for Hitachi Kokusai didn’t immediately answer calls seeking comment.
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