– Tepco Shares Close Down Record 27.6% After Talk Of Bankruptcy (Business Insider, June 6, 2011)
– Japan’s TEPCO shares plunge 20% to new low (AFP, June 8, 2011):
TOKYO — Shares in Japan’s TEPCO hit an all-time low Thursday, falling 20 percent on uncertainty over government plans to ensure the company can meet compensation bills over the crisis at its nuclear plant.
Shares of the embattled Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) fell to 160 yen by noon, after hitting a new intraday low of 159 yen.
The shares have lost more than 90 percent of their value since the day before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which crippled cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering reactor meltdowns.
Selling by short-term speculators has continued on ongoing concerns the utility may be forced into a court-backed restructuring process that will entail the delisting of its shares, analysts say.
“Even if the firm survives, it will not be able to generate shareholder returns so the share price will just steadily trend towards zero,” a fund manager of a Japanese asset management told Dow Jones Newswires.
The government will need to take over the responsibility to pay compensation costs to people affected by the nuclear crisis in order for any turnaround in share price, the fund manager added.
The Japanese government last month announced a rough scheme for rescuing TEPCO to ensure the payment of compensation, but critics have called for more clarity amid political wrangling.
Japan has been gripped by political turmoil since centre-left Prime Minister Naoto Kan last week survived a no-confidence motion after promising he would resign soon, sparking heated debate on when exactly he should bow out.
TEPCO — one of the world’s largest utilities — supplies electricity to roughly one-third of Japan’s population. Its service area covers the economically vital Kanto region in eastern Japan where Tokyo is located.
The firm at the centre of the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years is also Japan’s largest corporate bond issuer, and analysts say its collapse would create turmoil for the country’s financial system.
The company secured around 2.0 trillion yen in emergency loans from major banks after the disasters but faces huge costs in decommissioning the Fukushima plant and 750 billion yen ($9.4 billion) in bond redemptions due this year.
The worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986 has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from their houses, businesses and farms in a 20-kilometre (12-mile) radius around the plant.
There has been no official estimate of damages yet, but the sum is widely expected to reach several trillion yen.