The deal includes a $3 billion by Apple and smaller commitments from Dell, Seagate, Kingston and the South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix. Some minor details need to be sorted out but that should be done by the end of the day.
Toshiba’s board has come under intense pressure from the company’s biggest lenders, a trio of Japanese banks, to sell its prized asset ahead of a March 2018 deadline. Toshiba needs cash by March to prevent it from being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. On top of that, the semiconductor business requires huge amounts of investment, and Toshiba’s chip unit runs the danger of losing its competitive ability as rivals roll out big capital spending plans. The group needs the proceeds to plug a huge hole in its shareholder equity created by massive writedowns on its US nuclear business.
Analysts say the sale of the chip unit should remove that threat, though the actual completion of the deal is expected to be delayed by both antitrust scrutiny and a raft of legal actions launched by Toshiba’s joint venture partner in the chipmaking business, US group Western Digital.
Two Japanese state-backed financial institutions — the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan and the Development Bank of Japan — will join as investors once Toshiba and the winning consortium have settled legal differences over a joint venture with Western Digital.
A rival bid from the Taiwanese technology group Foxconn was described by people close to the process as “highly competitive until very late in the day”.