Apple and Google linked with Toshiba investment

The bidding war for Toshiba’s businesses continues to throw up new names. The latest players said to be lining up potential bids are Apple and Google. According to reports in Japan, both US companies have enquired about investment in Toshiba’s NAND flash memory units, however neither has tabled a formal bid to date.

Both companies would be interested in taking on the business – valued at around $18 billion – with smartphones, tablets and other mobile-operated devices using huge amounts of NAND flash memory. Therefore acquiring Toshiba’s business, would give either company priority to getting memory supply needed for their products. Currently, both Apple and Google rely on Samsung and Micron for their supply of flash memory. With demand high and supply tight within the NAND market, acquiring its own unit would relieve the pressure on either Apple or Google.

However, a potential spanner has been thrown into the works, with a number of Asian and American investors eyeing up the business. Toshiba’s partner Western Digital says a sale of the NAND memory division violates their joint venture, throwing the entire bidding war into doubt before it has even begun. An agreement is likely to be struck, whereby WD are given a say in the negotiations.

Toshiba (combined with production partner, WD) is the second largest NAND flash memory producer in the world. Financial problems caused by an ill-advised purchase of its nuclear unit have forced Toshiba to sell off many of its assets in order to recoup billions lost. The company took the unprecedented step of declaring its already-late earnings report without the approval of its auditor last week. Having already filed for bankruptcy for its nuclear unit, Westinghouse, bids have been tabled for Toshiba’s chip business and iconic TV division. What Toshiba decides to offload, and more importantly when and to who, remains to be seen.

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