* Key creditor offers "as much support as possible"
* Toshiba needs funds to cover U.S. losses
TOKYO, April 21 Toshiba Corp creditor
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank (SMTB) said it fully supports the
troubled electronics conglomerate as it battles to survive by
shedding a pair of core businesses.
"Toshiba is at a crucial stage now and it is making very big
efforts. As a member of its main creditor group, we will provide
as much support as possible," Masaru Hashimoto, who became
president of SMTB this month, said in an interview.
His bank is working with bigger rivals Sumitomo Mitsui
Banking Corp (SMBC) and Mizuho Bank to mollify
minor lenders which are increasingly jittery about Toshiba's
Toshiba's U.S. nuclear unit, Westinghouse Electric Co, last
month filed for bankruptcy as the Japanese company tried to stem
mounting losses from U.S. projects. Toshiba has also put its
prized chip business up for auction to raise around 2 trillion
yen ($18.34 billion) to replenish its capital.
Toshiba has told creditors it would need about 1 trillion
yen in fresh funds for the year started April.
"We would like to sincerely consider when Toshiba makes
specific requests for support," Hashimoto said.
Hashimoto and Tetsuo Ohkubo, who became president of parent
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings at the same time, are
taking over the leadership role as Japan's financial industry is
under growing regulatory pressure to overhaul practices.
The government is frustrated that households have yet to
shift significant sums of money out of savings accounts and into
capital markets despite incentives introduced by Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe to stimulate economic growth.
Regulators are urging financial institutions to show they
are fulfilling fiduciary duty as honest agents for clients,
demanding greater transparency in fee structures of investment
products and better performance of money managers.
"It's important to conduct customer-oriented business. But
in reality, it's not necessarily happening and it's hard to say
stable asset creation by the public has been realised,"
Nobuchika Mori, commissioner of the Financial Services Agency,
told an industry gathering earlier this month.
For trust banks such as SMTB, there have been concerns they
are not fully acting in the best interest of clients including
pension funds and mutual fund investors, out of consideration
for banking business relationships with companies whose stocks
are performing poorly.
"Preventing potential conflicts of interest is the very core
of the trust banking business and we have been doing that for
years," Ohkubo said.
"But given various opinions on the matter of fiduciary duty,
we are currently working to make our efforts more visible to
clients and regulatory authorities."
($1 = 109.0400 yen)
(Reporting by Taiga Uranaka; Editing by Stephen Coates)