© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Toshiba logos are pictured at Toshiba Corp’s annual general meeting with its shareholders in Tokyo, Japan, June 25, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Makiko Yamazaki and Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan’s Toshiba (OTC:) Corp said on Friday it has received interest from 10 potential investors after it solicited buyout offers.

It also announced a special dividend of 160 yen per share, worth some $545 million, in an apparent effort to placate activist shareholders it has long been at odds with.

The industrial conglomerate set up a special committee last month to explore strategic options including potential deals to go private after shareholders voted down a management-backed restructuring plan.

Toshiba said 10 investors had signed confidentiality pledges, without identifying them. It was not clear how many separate proposals it had received.

The investors have received detailed financial information and the deadline for submitting non-binding proposals is May 30.

U.S. private equity firm Bain has sounded out multiple other Toshiba shareholders about teaming up as it prepares to make a buyout offer, sources have previously told Reuters. And Toshiba’s top shareholder, Singapore-based Effissimo Capital Management, has said it has agreed to sell its 9.9% stake to Bain if it launches a tender offer.

Blackstone (NYSE:) and KKR are considering a joint bid for Toshiba, according to media reports earlier this week.

Those three private equity firms and Canadian investment firm Brookfield were tapped by Toshiba’s strategic review committee last year to put together and submit their ideas for the conglomerate, sources have previously said.

Toshiba said it has hired JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:) and Mizuho Financial Group Inc as financial advisors in addition to Nomura Holdings (NYSE:).

It also has delayed board director nominations, saying it needed more time to finalise candidates. The company, which will hold its annual general meeting in June, is trying to ascertain whether there were any conflict-of-interest issues for some candidates, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Interim board chairman Satoshi Tsunakawa has been in the position on a temporary basis. Shareholders last year rejected the re-election of his predecessor, angered after an investigation found that the company’s management colluded with the Japanese government to put pressure on foreign investors.

Toshiba also forecast a 7% rise in operating profit to 170 billion yen ($1.3 billion) for the year through March. That compares with a consensus estimate of 177 billion yen drawn from 11 analysts polled by Refinitiv.

($1 = 128.7 yen)

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