Apple considers bidding for big stake in Toshiba's chip business

The bid will be for more than several billion dollars because Apple reportedly wants at least a 20 percent stake.

The idea would be to allay Japanese government concerns about any transfer of sensitive technology to investors it deems a potential risk to national security, the broadcaster said. Representatives for Apple in Japan didn't respond to calls for comment.

A few have not yet given their approval ahead of a Friday deadline, but Toshiba's main lenders expect all creditors to give their consent, said the sources, who were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly.

Apple may be considering partnering with its China-based supplier Foxconn to purchase a major stake in Toshiba's semiconductor unit. Samsung is the biggest maker of flash memory chips, followed by Toshiba, SK Hynix, and USA -based Micron Technology Inc.

If Apple were to purchase a stake in Toshiba's semiconductor business, it would be a departure for a company that has historically outsourced most of its parts and labor, Handy said.

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In the meantime, Western Digital has already requested Toshiba that they be given exclusive negotiating rights.

Toshiba has put its memory chips business up for sale to make up for a writedown of 716.6 billion yen (US$6.56 billion) in its USA nuclear equipment operations. First, the 142-year-old electronics conglomerate warned it may not be able to continue as a going concern because of the Westinghouse losses. Foxconn by itself reportedly made an opening round bid of $18 billion for the business, which is the second largest flash memory operation on the planet topped only by Samsung.

Toshiba needs to raise money from the semiconductor sale to plug the hole in its balance sheet, but the bidding process so far has been rocky.

The company is presently accepting bids for the memory chip business.

  • Rita Burton