Japan's Toshiba to pay $850 mn for IBM retail unit

Japanese electronics giant Toshiba said Tuesday it would pay about $850.0 million for IBM's retail products unit, with the US firm saying it would create the world's leading point-of-sale company.

The transaction was expected to be completed later in the year, with the move aimed at retailers who "will benefit from accelerated development of new products and solutions", the Japanese firm said in a statement.

The deal comes as Japanese firms take advantage of a high yen to explore overseas expansion, with the stronger currency making their investment in foreign firms relatively cheaper.

The purchase will help Toshiba expand its point-of-sale (POS) systems business, from scanners and self-service kiosks for tallying up customer purchases to software that helps manage inventory.

Norio Sasaki, Toshiba's chief executive, said it would help the firm expand in North America, Europe "and the emerging economies."

"I also expect this significant step to support innovation and the creation of new business opportunities for Toshiba Group," Sasaki said.

IBM's Retail Store Solutions business, which last year posted sales of $1.15 billion with about 1,000 workers worldwide, is to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Toshiba Tec, a division of the Japanese firm.

Toshiba and other Japanese exporters has suffered plunging profits as the strong yen, which helps fund foreign expansion, also makes their own products more expensive overseas amid weak global demand for digital products.

Japanese firms were also pounded by last year's quake-tsunami disaster, and subsequent flooding in Thailand, which disrupted operations for firms with plants in the Southeast Asian nation.

In January, Toshiba more than halved its net profit forecast for the year to March to 65.0 billion yen from 140.0 billion yen, while it also cut its full-year sales forecast to 6.2 trillion yen from 7.0 trillion yen.

Last year, Toshiba said it would shut three semiconductor factories in Japan and slow production at a number of other plants as part of a reorganisation of its business, which also includes liquid crystal display televisions.

The decline has some Japanese firms aggressively chasing after foreign firms.

Last month, Japanese chemical giant Asahi Kasei announced a plan to buy US-based health care firm Zoll Medical for $2.21 billion in a friendly takeover.

Japanese drugs giant Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma also said it will buy US biotechnology cancer specialist Boston Biomedical for a price that could hit $2.6 billion.

Last year, Takeda Pharmaceutical reached a 9.6 billion euro ($12.6 billion) deal to buy Swiss drugmaker Nycomed in what would be one of the biggest overseas acquisitions by a Japanese firm.

However, some of Japan's best-known corporate names including Sony, Sharp and Panasonic have announced management shakeups, layoffs, sales of various businesses and tie-ups with rivals after warning of massive losses.

Last month, Sharp announced a deal with Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision as part of a liquid crystal display panel tie-up as it looks to save a balance sheet awash in red ink.

  • COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more 16 hours ago
    COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more

    Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are … Continue reading →

  • Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future 19 hours ago
    Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future

    It’s more than just its inherent speed, or the whooshing noise that fills the cabin like a school choir jamming with James Hetfield. It’s what it represents in an industry full of skeptics. It’s a portal into the future – a time capsule left by some mad scientist born decades too soon. It’s something that shouldn’t exist. And yet it does.

  • 919 reasons to love: Flickr photo of the day 20 hours ago
    919 reasons to love: Flickr photo of the day

    We've brought you the drive video of the $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder -- an 887-hp hybrid supercar with two electric motors working in harmony with a big 4.6-liter V-8. But how about this? Porsche's hybrid Le Mans racer -- the 919 Hybrid, sent to us by Kevin Leech. Get on board with electrification, folks. Because it's taking over the world.

  • COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more
    COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more

    Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are … Continue reading →

  • Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers
    Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers

    Singaporeans on social media reacted angrily to news that tissue sellers at hawker centres and street corners are being required to pay for an annual licence.

  • Arrest warrant sought for S. Korea ferry captain
    Arrest warrant sought for S. Korea ferry captain

    South Korean prosecutors sought arrest warrants Friday for the captain and two crew members of the ferry that capsized two days before with hundreds of children on board, a coastguard official said. The captain and most of his 28 crew managed to escape the ferry, and have been criticised for abandoning the ship when so many were still trapped on board. Tracking data from the Maritime Ministry showed the ferry made a sharp turn just before sending its first distress signal on Wednesday morning. Prosecutors said Friday that preliminary investigations showed that captain Lee Joon-Seok had handed the helm to his third officer before the ferry capsized.