Apple, which has been buying up over 30 percent of Toshiba's NAND flash chips, and Dell are expected to join the group, and Toshiba will keep a certain amount of shares to retain influence, according to Nikkei.
Western Digital's exclusion from the deal and worsening relationship with Toshiba may undermine a $15.8 billion bet on the market it made a year ago in buying SanDisk Corp.to gain access to manufacturing of the chips that are overtaking its computer storage business. One consortium included Bain Capital, the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan and the Development Bank of Japan.
The Bain-led group was identified as a preferred bidder nearly three months ago, but the process has been delayed by lawsuits, government opposition and corporate indecision.
The deal, agreed to by Toshiba's board of directors at a meeting Wednesday (Sept. 20), came just hours after the Retuers news service, citing anonymous sources, reported that Toshiba was once again leaning toward accepting a rival bid from Western Digital.
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Currently, Toshiba and Western Digital together represent 35 percent of the global NAND flash output, according to DRAMeXchange.
Korean chipmaker SK hynix remained silent on Sept 20 over reports that Japan-based Toshiba has made a decision to pick a Japan-US-Korean consortium as preferred bidder to buy its memory chip business unit.
However, some industry experts argue that if the new Japanese shareholders of Toshiba's chip business refuse to share information regarding production and technology with SK Hynix, little to nothing is be gained for the South Korean chipmaker despite its high-profile months-long bid to win the battle for a piece of Toshiba. But the MOU didn't preclude Toshiba from continuing to negotiate with other bidders.
While $18 billion is a lot, tech manufacturing giant Foxconn was reportedly offering as much as $28 billion with the support of heavyweights like Amazon and Apple.