June 10, 2017 / 5:58 AM / 2 years ago

Japan Post chief plans to slow acquisitions after Toll losses: Nikkei

FILE PHOTO: Japan Post Holdings' Chief Executive Officer Masatsugu Nagato speaks at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan Post Holdings (6178.T) plans to slow the pace of future acquisitions, shifting away from its earlier aggressive investment strategy as it smarts from losses over its purchase of Australian logistics company Toll Holdings, the Nikkei business daily reported on Saturday.

Japan Post President Masatsugu Nagato said the company must be more careful about how much it pays for and how it manages its acquisitions, according to the Japanese newspaper. The company announced in April a $3.6 billion writedown at the Australian firm just two years after the $4.9 billion takeover.

The writedown, which led to Japan Post’s first annual loss in more than a decade, marks the latest in a string of high-profile failures of foreign takeovers by Japanese companies including Toshiba Corp (6502.T) and Kirin Holdings Co Ltd (2503.T), and has raised questions about Japan’s corporate governance reforms.

“Right now, good deals are not out there,” the Japanese newspaper quoted Nagato as saying in an interview. “We had said we should go after M&As as opportunities arise, but we should tone that down.”

Nagato told the Nikkei he would cut spending at Toll and tighten its operations, conceding that its problems at the Australian company were the result of lax management and Japan Post’s failure to foresee that slowing commodity prices would drag on Australia’s resource-dependent economy.

Despite the failures at Toll, he said Japan Post would have to acquire more businesses in the future as it needed to look beyond postal services to increase revenue.

The Toll acquisition has raised questions over due diligence procedures at Japan Post, which is 80 percent owned by the Japanese government, and its plan to integrate Toll’s sprawling business into a global conglomerate spanning postal delivery, banking and insurance.

The government is preparing a second offering of shares in Japan Post as it seeks to privatize the postal service.

Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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