U.S. hedge fund Farallon to vote for activist-backed Toshiba board nominees

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Toshiba Corp is seen as window cleaners work on the company's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, February 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. hedge fund Farallon Capital Management said on Wednesday it would vote for nominees to Toshiba Corp's 6502.T board that are backed by activist funds, intensifying a proxy fight involving the Japanese industrial conglomerate.

Effissimo Capital Management, the top shareholder with a 15% stake, is calling for Toshiba to elect an Effissimo co-founder and two others as outside directors, while the 3D Opportunity Master Fund is seeking the election of two candidates it is nominating.

The three hedge funds control about 25% in total of Toshiba.

Farallon, which has a more than 5% stake, said in a statement it “believes that it is important that Toshiba seeks to further strengthen its corporate governance framework in the interests of all stakeholders”.

Toshiba has opposed the proposals for additional directors, saying its 12 board members are sufficient. A Toshiba spokeswoman declined to comment on Farallon’s decision, saying the company would not comment on individual shareholders.

The company has been under pressure from activist funds since it sold 600 billion yen ($5.6 billion) of stock to dozens of foreign hedge funds during a crisis stemming from the bankruptcy of its U.S. nuclear power unit in 2017.

It added seven new independent directors, including a former Farallon executive, last year in response to pressure from Farallon and another U.S. hedge fund King Street Capital.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Barbara Lewis