© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Toshiba Corporation and its shareholders display the Toshiba logo at the annual general meeting of shareholders in Tokyo, Japan, June 25, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File photo
TOKYO (Reuters) – The world’s largest Norwegian sovereign wealth fund voted in favor of a shareholder proposal to ask Toshiba (OTC: ) to solicit takeover offers from private equity firms ahead of a special meeting on March 24.
The fund voted against the Japanese industrial group’s plan to break up itself by spinning off its equipment business, voting records show.
It owns a 1.22 percent stake in Toshiba, according to Refinitiv.
Likewise, the Florida State Board of Management, which owns a 0.22% stake in Toshiba, voted against a management-backed split and backed a proposal by Singapore-based 3D Investment Partners.
Despite their small stake, support for 3D’s proposal from these prominent institutional investors could increase the incentive for activist shareholders to demand that the board fully explore spin-off alternatives.
Earlier this week, an outside Toshiba board director said he would support 3D’s proposal, breaking with the company’s board’s public stance.
Toshiba said the board’s opposition to the shareholder proposal has not changed and will continue to make every effort to gain shareholder support for the spin-off plan.
Influential proxy consultancy Glass Lewis backed 3D’s proposal, but its rival Institutional Shareholder Services did not recommend a vote on it, although it opposed the spin-off plan.
Explaining the reasons for its vote, the Norwegian fund, run by Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), said it considers factors such as whether there is sufficient transparency and whether all shareholders are treated fairly when assessing corporate transactions.
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