Apple Joins ‘Last-Ditch’ Bidding Effort to Win Toshiba’s Memory Chip Unit

Bidding for Toshiba’s much-sought-after memory chip unit was supposed to end in June 2017, after first kicking off in March, but the manufacturer is still fielding bids from multiple interested parties, most recently including a $17.4 billion offer from Western Digital. Likely due to Western Digital’s legal action against Toshiba’s decision to sell the NAND chip unit, talks surrounding that offer have reportedly “stalled” and now a new consortium of companies — including Apple — has entered a “last-ditch” effort to win the bidding.

Led by Boston-based global investment firm Bain Capital, the consortium also includes Apple and South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix (via Reuters). This group plans to offer Toshiba $18.2 billion for its memory chip unit, with a goal of reaching a final decision by Thursday, August 31 now “unlikely.” This is said to be due to bickering over exactly how much Western Digital might own of the memory chip unit after it’s sold, no matter who wins the bidding, because of the Western Digital’s business ties with Toshiba.

A consortium led by Bain Capital has made a revised last-ditch offer for Toshiba Corp’s chip unit worth about $18 billion, bringing in Apple Inc to help bolster its bid, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The revised offer is worth some 2 trillion yen ($18.2 billion). Bain and South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix Inc will be responsible for 1.1 trillion yen, while Apple will provide up to 400 billion yen and Japanese banks will give around 600 billion yen in support, one of the sources said.

Many companies have entered bidding proposals for Toshiba’s memory chip unit this year, including TSMC, Foxconn, Amazon, Google, Broadcom, and multiple private equity firms. Apple has already been associated with bidding interest as well, reportedly willing to spend several billion dollars to obtain a “substantial stake” — potentially more than 20 percent — of the chip unit. If Bain Capital’s bid is the winner, Apple’s stake would likely remain around that percentage.

Toshiba confirmed plans to sell its NAND flash memory unit in January 2017, as a way to raise funds that the company hopes will cover significant losses associated with its U.S. nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse. If part of the winning bid, Apple could obtain a stake in a unit that already provides flash storage to the Cupertino company, including 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB flash storage for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

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