Toshiba agreed on Thursday to sell its chip division for 2 trillion yen ($17.7 billion) to a Bain Capital-led consortium that involves large U.S. technology firms including Apple and Dell.
Earlier this year, Toshiba shareholders gave the go-ahead for the sale of the memory business; Toshiba is the world’s second largest producer of NAND flash memory — behind Samsung. And last week, the board agreed to sell the unit to the Bain consortium.
The group consists of Japan’s Hoya Corporation, South Korea’s SK Hynix, and U.S. investors Apple, Kingston Technology Corporation, Seagate Technology and Dell.
After the Toshiba Memory Corporation (TMC) shares are transferred to the consortium’s special purpose acquisition company Pangea, Bain and TMC managemnet will lead the “business operations to secure continuous growth,” Toshiba said.
The U.S. investors will not acquire any common stock or voting rights over TMC. In addition, SK Hynix will be “firewalled” from accessing TMC’s proprietary information and will not be allowed to own more than 15 percent of the voting rights in Pangea or TMC for 10 years. SK Hynix is a competitor of TMC.
Toshiba was prompted to sell the unit after its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in March. Mounting losses from the unit has put pressure on Toshiba’s balance sheet. If it doesn’t get a grip on its finances by March, the end of the Japanese financial year, then it could be delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
While the deal was announced Thursday, there are still a number of hurdles. It needs to get regulatory approval to make sure the agreement is not in breach of antitrust rules or does not threaten national security.
But the biggest roadblock is the ongoing spat with Western Digital, Toshiba’s partner in the semiconductor business. Western Digital is seeking an injunction to block the sale of the semiconductor unit claiming that it violates the partnership contract that the two companies have.