Toshiba eyes exclusive sale talks with US-SKorea consortium: reports


Tokyo (AFP)

Toshiba will hold exclusive talks with a consortium of US, South Korean and state-backed Japanese investors to sell its prized memory chip business, reports said Wednesday, as the loss-hit conglomerate scrambles to raise cash.

The industrial conglomerate, a pillar of corporate Japan, needs to raise money after taking massive losses from US nuclear operations that have puts its survival in doubt.

The company's board is meeting Wednesday to discuss a plan that would give preferential treatment to the joint bid worth more than 2 trillion yen ($18 billion), Japan's public broadcaster NHK and the leading Nikkei business daily reported.

The potential suitor is comprised of the public-private Innovation Network Corp. of Japan, the state-backed Development Bank of Japan, South Korean chip giant SK Hynix and US private equity fund Bain Capital, the reports said, citing unnamed sources.

However, the sale of Toshiba's profitable memory chip business, seen as key for the cash-strapped firm's turnaround, still faces hurdles as its US chip factory partner Western Digital tries to block the sale with a court injunction.

Contacted by AFP, a Toshiba spokesman declined to comment on the reports including whether it plans to hold a board meeting Wednesday.

Toshiba is the world's number two supplier of memory chips, behind South Korea's Samsung and ahead of third-placed Western Digital.

Its chip division has accounted for about one-quarter of its annual revenue.

But the sale is controversial.

Japanese media have said the government was worried about losing a sensitive technology to foreign owners amid questions about security around systems already using Toshiba's memory chips. They are widely used in data centres as well as smartphones and computers.

In Tokyo trading, Toshiba rose 0.57 percent to 332.1 yen.