Western Digital Corp’s chief executive has flown to Japan to engage in final discussions with Toshiba over the sale of its lucrative chip memory business. The deal is expected to be finalized within the next few days, which would finally put an end to months of speculation and legal disputes which ensued between both entities.
Toshiba has been desperately trying to offload its flash memory unit following the financial disaster it occurred with its US nuclear business Westinghouse going bankrupt earlier this year. In an effort to cover its losses it announced it would sell its highly-valued chip business.
The US computer data storage giants expressed their interest in acquiring the memory flash unit from the offset - but Toshiba was reluctant to do business with Western Digital. However, Western Digital said that as a partner Toshiba required their consent for any sale of the flash chip business - and subsequently placed an injunction blocking Toshiba from selling its business to other prospectors.
However, after legal disputes and the intervention of the Japanese government, a deal now looks set to be sealed. A consortium which includes Western Digital, US private equity firm KKR and Japanese government investors have offered 1.9 trillion yen ($17.3 billion) for the unit. In addition to this, it has been disclosed that the US firm is offering 150 billion yen through convertible bonds.
A source close to Toshiba has claimed that the Japanese firm aims to announce a deal by August 31st, when the company’s other boards reconvene. Both Western Digital and Toshiba declined to comment on these reports. It also emerged that some senior executives within Toshiba had reportedly baulked at Western Digital’s initial offer, but changed tact when the US data computer storage firm declared it did not seek a management role within the new business and would limit its stake to no more than one-third - even when it converts the bonds to equity.
Toshiba and Western Digital – remain both the world’s second and third largest producer of NAND chips.