Toshiba Corp.’s memory chips business is attracting more potential bidders ahead of an end-of-March deadline, including Japanese government-backed entities, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The Development Bank of Japan is considering a joint offer with U.S. financial bidders.
The electronics conglomerate is seeking a sale of the prized unit to make up for a multibillion-dollar writedown in its nuclear operations. The semiconductor business is Toshiba’s crown jewel and makes the memory chips that go into personal computers, smartphones and data centers. It accounted for about 25% of Toshiba’s 5.67 trillion yen ($50.35 billion) in revenue during the latest fiscal year.
The shares of Toshiba rose 3.5% in Tokyo on Friday. The stock is down 33% this year after unveiling the potential losses in late December.
Late on Thursday, a Toshiba executive said he would welcome a bid from Innovation Network Corp. of Japan. INCJ and DBJ are considering a joint bid to take more than a 30% stake, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, but Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga immediately poured cold water on the speculations, telling reporters in Tokyo that Japan is not considering the use of public funds for Toshiba.
Kaori Hiraki, a spokeswoman for Toshiba, declined to comment on the progress of chip unit sale and possible bidders. Representatives for DBJ and INCJ declined to comment.
The number of interested parties, which already includes semiconductor makers and investments funds, may increase beyond the current 10 and the company expects final bids by March 29, the executive said. Western Digital Corp., SK Hynix Inc., Foxconn Technology Group, Micron Technology Inc. and Kingston Technology Co. are among those interested, one of the people said. On March 2, Foxconn founder Terry Gou said he is “very serious” about making a bid for the memory chip business.
Representatives for Kingston, Western Digital and Micron declined to comment. Foxconn’s public relations department didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The bids could range from 700 billion yen to 1.8 trillion yen ($6.22 billion to $15.98 billion), one of the persons said. Toshiba, which is willing to sell off a majority stake in the unit, is seeking bids that value the entire business at 1.5 trillion yen ($13.32 billion). Toshiba is struggling to regain its footing after disclosing an estimated loss of 712.5 billion yen ($6.33 billion) in Westinghouse Electric. The Tokyo-based company has had to delay its earnings announcement twice, and has also floated the possibility of selling off the nuclear operations.
Financial bidders may be likely but they will probably submit offers closer to the deadline, the executive said. Among the financial bidders are Bain Capital, Silver Lake Partners and KKR & Co., people familiar with the matter have said.
The Toshiba executive declined to clarify whether the government-backed group is the Japanese company that is said to have expressed interested. INCJ was created in 2009 with majority government ownership and a mandate to promote the next generation of technologies and companies. The fund put money into Renesas Electronics Corp., which was formed in 2010 from the struggling semiconductor operations of several Japanese companies. INCJ later created Japan Display Inc. from the troubled screenmaking units of Toshiba, Sony Corp., and Hitachi Ltd.
Toshiba has said it aims to complete the sale of the chips business by March 2018. Its three main lenders have agreed to extend support to the company in the meantime, according to two people familiar with the matter. Toshiba met with the banks on Wednesday, asking for extension of its loans through April and offering equity and real estate as collateral, the people said.
By Pavel Alpeyev, Takahiko Hyuga and Takako Taniguchi, with assistance from Gao Yuan.