Is Apple Toshiba's newest chip bidder?

The beleaguered Japanese conglomerate confirmed that it tried its best to seal a deal but failed to come to an agreement with any of the interested parties.

Talks with a consortium led by Western Digital Corp were in final stages, with the head of the US firm in Japan to hammer out details, the sources said, requesting anonymity because they were not authorised to speak with media.

Toshiba is the world's number-two supplier of memory chips, behind South Korean titan Samsung.

Western Digital, a joint venture partner with Toshiba on the production and sale of NAND flash memory, had raised objections over Toshiba's moves to sell the semiconductor business without its permission and without giving it first refusal on a purchase. "Meanwhile, Samsung is showing drive in the 3D NAND market, including building a factory dedicated to 3D NAND".

The revised offer is worth some 2 trillion yen ($18.2 billion).

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"The Western Digital bid looks the neatest because it theoretically removes the legal dispute that has been holding this dealmaking process back", someone familiar with the negotiations told the Financial Times.

Toshiba will talk through the potential sale later today and whoever ends up buying the business, it's likely the company will want a quick sale so it isn't thrown off the Tokyo Stock exchange for failing to make up the $4.5bn losses caused by its nuclear unit. Bain had previously submitted a $19 billion offer with another group that included state-backed Innovation Network Corp. of Japan and Development Bank of Japan.

A third consortium includes Western Digital, Toshiba's USA -based chip factory partner, which has tried to block any sale to a third-party in court. -South Korean consortium was the preferred bidder for Toshiba Memory Corp. The source adds that Toshiba has been called to be a part of the deal investing $18 billion.

But the two sides are struggling to come to an agreement over the USA company's future stake in the business, several sources have said.

It's not clear exactly how Apple would support Bain's bid. In the last few days relations between Toshiba and Western Digital have improved according to local reports. Reuters reported on Monday that Western Digital had taken the top spot at the negotiating table.

  • Darren Santiago