Toshiba Medical Systems déjà vu

January 06, 2016
by Philip F. Jacobus, CEO
Today, many of my phone calls were peppered with analysis of what's happening at Toshiba. What does it mean to those of us in the diagnostic imaging business?

It's complicated…

How many of you remember Marconi Medical? It was only called that for a few years and previously was known as Picker International.

A young CEO who controlled Marconi followed his heart and took the wrong path and almost drove the company into bankruptcy. In an effort to save itself from bankruptcy Marconi sold the Picker business, one of the biggest producers of X-ray equipment in the world, to Philips BV.

It turned out to be a great move for Philips. They inherited a big customer base and a lot of innovative technology. (Before you e-mail me to remind me about the role that Elscint played let me get on with my story.)

So here's an example of the company in trouble relying on their health care division to save them.

Toshiba is having a lot of problems. You know they had accounting irregularities and the tsunami that damaged the nuclear plant in Japan hit them pretty hard. However, Toshiba is smarter than Marconi was. Toshiba is holding on to the jewel in the crown or at least one of the jewels in the crown — namely, their medical unit.

Go ahead and tell me that Toshiba is not setting any sales records but right about now nobody is. Toshiba does have big market share around the world and a lot of loyal customers. I think it's a very smart move to hold on to one of the best divisions rather than to sell it.

I believe that the culture in Toshiba is to think long term, over a decade, and I'm sure that over the next 10 years Toshiba will be glad that they're holding on to their medical division and selling off their consumer electronics business which is becoming a commodity business.

I don't know what they're going to do about the problems with the nuclear group but this too will pass for them.

Do you want another indication that Toshiba believes the medical division is here to stay?

I am sure you follow the career of Mr. Satoshi Tsunakawa who, according to Bloomberg, was appointed Corporate Senior Executive Vice President of Toshiba Corporation in September 2015. On the Toshiba website he is also listed as the group CEO of Healthcare Systems & Services Group.

Bloomberg also shows that Toshio Takiguchi has been Corporate Vice President and Executive Officer at Toshiba Corporation since October 6, 2015. Mr. Takiguchi is listed on the Toshiba website as the president and CEO of the Healthcare business.

So it would seem to me that at the end of last year Toshiba moved their health care executives into important positions in the corporation indicating to me that the board of directors has confidence in the health care executives.

All in all, my read is that Toshiba medical systems is here to stay.