October 26, 2007. Nova's X-Day. Many doubted that it would ever arrive. Others here on the LJ forums several months ago uncannily predicted mid-October. Ken Worsley at Japan Economic News predicted "around November 1." (He's got a new piece about Nova up in Metropolis this evening that you can link to from his site that's worth checking out.)
After Sahashi was effectively removed in an early morning coup d'etat, the remaining members of the board of directors filed for bankruptcy protection in an Osaka court. Nova's debt as of the end of July has been placed at 43 billion yen, but the last three months have been especially brutal, so who knows what the true figure is?
The immediate bad news for current or recently resigned instructors is that pay will not be forthcoming soon, as Nova is now under court protection and will not be making payments of any kind for the time being. If you are owed money, there are discussions underway in the forums for current and recently resigned teachers.
So what happens next?
Nova has one month to look for a "sponsor," and according to the Yomiuri Shimbun, Nova is looking at the retailer Aeon (as opposed to the eikaiwa chain), Marui, Yahoo, and Rakuten. In the LJ forums, PanicInducingGaijin wrote:
Getting back on topic, looking at the four companies Nova is interested in tying up with suggests that if it does manage to survive -- which I still think is unlikely -- it won't be anything like what it is now. Apparently Aeon (again, the retail chain and not the English school) is or was at one point interested in having more Nova Kids schools in its shopping centers so that mothers can drop their kids off and have more time to shop and spend. Babysitting all day in a shopping mall -- sound like fun?
Marui was apparently interested in Nova's loan operations, but Sahashi turned down an offer from them in May. Will they go crawling back to a failing company?
Rakuten and Yahoo! might conceivably be interested in Web-based language lessons. Rakuten, however, is still hurting from the TBS thing earlier this year, so I doubt they would be up for anything as risky as a tie-up with Nova. As for Yahoo!, who knows, but I think it's fairly safe to say that none of these four companies is going to take over Nova and run it as a chain of language schools.
Tonight we're left with more questions than answers. If Nova can't find a sponsor, it's in deep trouble, but who's going to want to get involved? Meanwhile, according to Ken Worsley, Sahashi holds only about 20% of Nova's shares. Were the share warrants exercised, or did he sell or lend more of his holdings? And for that matter, where in the world is he, and why is he hiding? Stay tuned!
Update 10/27:TV coverage of Sahashi’s dismissal and Nova’s bankruptcy.