July 9, 2015 / 12:51 AM / 5 years ago

Amid accounting probe, Toshiba may sell Westinghouse shares: sources

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toshiba Corp, which is expected to write down profits due to an accounting scandal, is considering selling assets including part of its stake in Westinghouse Electric, sources with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.

Pedestrians walk past a logo of Toshiba Corp outside an electronics retailer in Tokyo, Japan, June 25, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

The Nikkei business daily, which first reported the news, said the Japanese industrial conglomerate plans to generate about 200 billion yen ($1.7 billion) through the sales.

Toshiba may need to mark down past earnings by over 100 billion yen due to past accounting errors, a separate source has told Reuters. Some reports have put estimated write downs at as much as 200 billion yen.

The company said it had already been considering lowering its 87 percent stake in the U.S.-based nuclear power company and that this had nothing to do with its accounting investigation.

“We’ve been looking for a partner for some time. Our position hasn’t changed,” company spokesman Hirokazu Tsukimoto said, adding that Toshiba wanted to maintain a majority stake.

He declined to comment on whether the company was in talks with any potential investors.

The stock has lost more than a quarter of its value since it first disclosed in early April it was investigating past accounting practices in infrastructure and construction. The probe, which has since passed onto an independent committee, is expected to take until mid-July.

Its shares were down 3.3 percent in afternoon trade on Tokyo.

The Nikkei said accounting irregularities had been found in all of Toshiba’s main segments, including semiconductors. It also said Vice Chairman Norio Sasaki, who served as president between 2009 and 2013, would likely step down from the board of directors.

Toshiba denied it had decided on the departure of any executives including Sasaki.

On Wednesday, sources familiar with the discussions said Toshiba has talked with banks about a credit line worth up to 600 billion yen ($5 billion) to secure funding in case the investigation hurts its creditworthiness.

Reporting by Reiji Murai and Ritsuko Ando; Writing by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Stephen Coates and Edwina Gibbs

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