Toshiba opens bidding on semiconductor unit

TOKYO-Toshiba has begun the bidding process for its memory chip business, The Nikkei learned Thursday, as the Japanese industrial giant struggles to get back on its feet following a massive loss at its U.S. nuclear operations.

Toshiba will take proposals from companies and investment funds through March 29 covering their desired ownership stake and payment offer, among other terms. Depending on the bids, Toshiba could sell up to 100% of the chip unit, in which case it could reap a profit of more than 1 trillion yen ($8.7 billion) from the sale.

The company will hold an extraordinary shareholders meeting March 30 to officially spin off its semiconductor business effective April 1. Toshiba aims to line up a buyer around June and conduct the sale by the end of March 2018 following antitrust probes and other necessary procedures.

The conglomerate initially planned to sell less than 20% of the chip spinoff, but has since decided to sell a majority stake. It hopes to attract higher prices from competitors and investment funds looking to take the lead on management decisions.

To allow interested parties to form coalitions, Toshiba has set a one-month bidding period. U.S.-based rivals Western Digital and Micron Technology as well as South Korea’s SK Hynix have shown interest. Several investment funds also are said to be considering a deal, as is Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry, a key Apple supplier also known as Foxconn.

Toshiba demands that bidders value the chip unit at a minimum of 2 trillion yen ($17.4 billion). The company hopes to earn a profit of at least 1 trillion yen in order to make up for the loss suffered by its American nuclear business.