Toshiba Locked in Negotiations Over Memory Chip Unit

Friday, 01 Sep, 2017

The embattled Japanese conglomerate said in a statement it has tried but so far not come to an agreement and it was continuing to talk with three suitors - a consortium led by Western Digital as well as groups led by Bain Capital and by Taiwan's Foxconn.

It's thought Apple could be looking to invest in Toshiba's memory business to help cover a shortage of the memory chips it uses in its iPhones and iPads. Earlier reports said Bain brought Apple into the bidding group to stay in the running as Toshiba leaned toward a deal with Western Digital. "Meanwhile, Samsung is showing drive in the 3D NAND market, including building a factory dedicated to 3D NAND".

Toshiba Corp. on Thursday missed a deadline to sign an agreement by the end of August for the sale of its profitable chip unit, saying it is still in talks with three consortiums.

Reports said iPhone maker Apple too has jumped into the race with a consortium offering to pay about $20 billion for the unit.

In addition to Western Digital, the consortium includes US private equity firm KKR & Co and the state-backed Innovation Network of Japan and Development Bank of Japan.

Combined, Toshiba and Western Digital could be nearly as large as Samsung's memory unit, which could give a combined company more negotiating leverage against Apple.

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In June, Toshiba announced it had picked the Japan-U.S. Top Toshiba executives and its deal advisers are resisting the current offer, arguing it doesn't do enough to protect the interests of the chips unit or the parent, the people said.

A previous deal, led by Bain was chosen by Toshiba as its preferred bidder but was blocked by Toshiba over its reluctance to do a deal in the face of Western Digital's legal threats. Toshiba Memory is expected to sell for $18 billion, according to press reports. Kaori Hiraki, Toshiba's spokeswoman, declined to comment on details of the deal negotiations.

Toshiba wants to reach a deal soon and it is not clear if it will give serious consideration to Bain's new proposal.

Western Digital's group is reportedly also backed by INCJ and DBJ.

"Western Digital and Toshiba really need each other because they can't compete against Samsung without partners", he added.