SAN FRANCISCO—Toshiba’s shareholders approved spinning off the company’s semiconductor business into a separate business at a special shareholder meeting Thursday (March 30), paving the way for a sale that could fetch up to $18 billion, according to reports.
Meanwhile, the number of reported bidders in the Toshiba chip business continues to mount, though most of the bidders are unconfirmed.
Japan’s Nikkei news service reported Friday that roughly 10 bidders have emerged in the sweepstakes to land the business, which is second only to Samsung Electronics in NAND flash sales. The bids include a $17.9 billion offer from Broadcom and U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, Nikkei reported.
In addition to Broadcom-Silver Lake, Nikkei also reported that both South Korea’s SK Hynix and U.S. hard disk drive maker Western Digital have also submitted bids. Both firms had also submitted bids for a stake in Toshiba’s chip business back in February, when the company was considering selling up to 20 percent of it.
Taiwanese contract manufacturing giant Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., which operates under the trade name Foxconn, is also widely believed to have submitted a bid to acquire Toshiba’s chip business. Previously, U.S. memory firm Micron Technology and U.S. investment firm Bain Capital have also been named as bidders in unconfirmed news reports. And Nikkei reported this week that various unnamed U.S. and European investment funds have also joined the bidding.
Tsinghua Unigroup, a memory chip company controlled by the Chinese government, has also surfaced as a potential bidder in Japanese news reports. Tsinghua, which has committed $54 billion to build two huge memory fabs in China, has said it wants to build 3D NAND flash, but is believed to lack the technical expertise to do so. Toshiba has been developing 3D NAND for several years.
Japan’s Kyodo news service reported last week that Innovation Network Co. of Japan, a partnership between the Japanese government and 19 corporations, and the state-owned Development Bank of Japan could also bid for the Toshiba unit.
Toshiba announced Feb. 14 it would consider selling a majority stake in the chip unit as a way to raise capital after saying it would take a write down of about $6.3 billion related to its nuclear business.
In recent weeks, speculation in Japanese media has been that the Japanese government might move to block the sale of the business to a foreign company, particularly a Chinese or Taiwanese firm, on national security grounds.
Kyodo reported last week that Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said at a press conference that Toshiba should “take into deep consideration” any potential purchase by a foreign company.
—Dylan McGrath covers the semiconductor industry and business news for EE Times.