Short-sellers smell blood as Japan Inc wounded by accounting scandals

Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:00pm EDT
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* Short sellers shifting focus from Chinese companies to Japan

* Citron's Cyberdyne attack is sixth ever on Japan company

* Toshiba scandal sparked investor concerns over governance issues

* Short sellers see Japan trading companies as potential targets

By Umesh Desai and Michelle Price

HONG KONG, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Short-sellers who made their names and fortunes wiping billions off Chinese and Southeast Asian companies are setting their sights on Japan after a series of accounting scandals amplified concerns about weak corporate governance there.

Until recently, corporate managers in Japan have enjoyed relatively limited scrutiny of their governance standards and accounting rigour, and a cosy tradition of cross-holdings between companies has relegated the status of minority shareholders and the importance of adequate disclosure.

But as the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has tried to clean up corporate culture and activist investors have begun to kick the tyres of Japan Inc, short sellers are finding fertile ground for profit.

On Tuesday, prominent U.S.-based short-seller Citron Research launched an attack on Japanese robotics company Cyberdyne, claiming it was "the most ridiculously priced stock in the world" and had misled retail investors over its technology assets.   Continued...