Toshiba on track for 2 trillion yen semiconductor business sale

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Struggling Toshiba Corp.’s planned semiconductor business sell-off has attracted bids of more than 2 trillion yen (about $18.1 billion) from two foreign companies.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. of Taiwan and major U.S. semiconductor maker Broadcom Ltd. are competing to buy the subsidiary, which Toshiba will create by splitting off its semiconductor business.

As the highest value bidder, Hon Hai pledged close to 3 trillion yen in the first round of bidding, which closed March 29, sources said on April 6.

The new subsidiary’s value is at least 2 trillion yen, according to Toshiba President Satoshi Tsunakawa.

Three other companies have put forward bids of between 1 and 2 trillion yen: Western Digital Corp. of the United States; SK Hynix Inc. of South Korea; and U.S. investment fund Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR).

Around 10 companies altogether have entered bids, mostly on the assumption that they would buy 100 percent of the new subsidiary’s shares. No Japanese firms are in the running.

Toshiba plans to whittle down the candidates in April, and decide the eventual buyer through a second round of bidding by late June, when a general shareholders’ meeting is scheduled to be held.

In the sale negotiations, Toshiba is emphasizing the importance of conditions that the buyer will maintain the company’s employment and manufacturing strongholds, and that the sale should be completed by the end of the fiscal year in March 2018.

Toshiba said it will also take into account government concerns that the sale could lead to the corporation’s semiconductor technologies leaking to China.

In the second round, the values of the bids may change. It is also possible that Japanese companies or investment funds enter the picture with joint bids.

Toshiba’s U.S. nuclear power business subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric Co., collapsed in March, meaning that the corporation’s debts were likely to have exceeded its assets by 620 billion yen as of the end of March 2017.

As a solution, the corporation has been forced to sell its NAND-type flash memory business, one of the most lucrative assets of its semiconductor arm.

If Toshiba realizes a sale of 2 trillion yen for the subsidiary, its profit is expected to be about 1 trillion yen after taxes and other costs.

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