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Toshiba shares jump on report that auditor to sign off on results

[TOKYO] Toshiba Corp's auditor will sign off on its annual financial results after months of being at odds with the embattled conglomerate - in a step that would lessen the risk of a delisting, the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun newspaper reported on Monday.

The report sent shares in Toshiba jumping 7 per cent in morning trade.

PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata (PwC) has not endorsed Toshiba's books since being appointed as its auditor in April 2016. A major sticking point has been a query from PwC over whether Toshiba should have recognised multi-billion dollar losses at US nuclear arm Westinghouse earlier than last December, sources familiar with the matter have said.

PwC will either issue a so-called "opinion without qualifications" - given where there are no problems in a company's accounts - or an "opinion with qualifications" - given where only minor problems exist - by a bourse-imposed deadline on Thursday, the business daily said, without citing sources.

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Representatives for PwC and Toshiba declined to comment.

In contrast, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported on July 25 that PwC was considering issuing an "adverse opinion" of Toshiba's books, which would greatly increase the risk of a delisting.

A writedown and liabilities linked to Westinghouse have forced Toshiba to put its prized memory chip business up for sale. But talks on the US$18 billion sale have stalled, raising concerns over how fast the company can plug a multi-billion-dollar balance sheet hole.

Any delisting before the sale is completed would reduce the urgency of the sale, but could further complicate Toshiba's ability to raise money, in particular to feed its cash-hungry memory-chip business and potentially jeopardising its competitiveness.

Toshiba was demoted to the second section of the Tokyo bourse this month after flagging negative shareholders' equity of US$5.2 billion.