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Blackstone Explores Joint Toshiba Bid With KKR

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(Bloomberg) -- Blackstone Inc. is considering teaming up with KKR & Co. on a joint bid for Japanese conglomerate Toshiba Corp., people with knowledge of the matter said.

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The private equity firms have held exploratory talks about partnering on an offer for Toshiba, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Toshiba could announce as soon as this week it’s chosen additional banks to help it evaluate takeover interest, the people said. The Tokyo-based company plans to bring on JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Mizuho Financial Group Inc. to work alongside Nomura Holdings Inc. as it considers strategic alternatives including a privatization, according to the people.

CVC Capital Partners and Bain Capital have also been weighing potential offers for Toshiba, Bloomberg News has reported. CVC is speaking to several buyout firms as well as local Japanese funds, including some with state backing, about joining forces, the people said. Buyout firms are looking to build consortia given the size of the transaction, as well as its competitive and political nature, they said.

A buyout of Toshiba could be private equity’s biggest ever deal in the country. The potential deal would add to the $51 billion in takeovers of Japanese companies announced over the past year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Discussions are at a preliminary stage, and the firms could decide not to move ahead with proposals, the people said. A representative for Toshiba referred to a previous announcement that it planned to add external advisers as necessary, declining to elaborate further. The Japanese company is scheduled to announce full-year business results on May 13.

Representatives for Blackstone, JPMorgan and Mizuho declined to comment, while spokespeople for CVC and KKR didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Shares of Toshiba rose as much as 1.4% in early Thursday trading in Tokyo, their largest intraday increase in almost a week, giving the company a market value of nearly $18 billion. Blackstone closed down 2.3% on Wednesday in New York, while KKR sank 2%.

Toshiba said on April 21 that it planned to start soliciting proposals from potential investors, and that it had hired Nomura as financial adviser. The company’s board of directors and the special committee picked UBS Group AG, in order to be advised independently from the management team.

The interest from investors shows that major private equity funds see an opportunity at the troubled Japanese firm, where management and shareholders have been at odds for years over the company’s future.

(Updates with company shares in eighth paragraph.)

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