Toshiba may sell silicon biz to contain fallout of nuke plant problems

Japanese company's foray into fission has been a fiscal flop that a RAM plant sale could fix

A troubled nuclear power station strategy in the USA has Toshiba considering the partial sale of its Japanese semiconductor business.

Nikkei (in Japanese) names Western Digital as a potential buyer, along with several investment funds.

The company hopes to get between $1.77bn and $2.65bn for a 20 per cent stake in the business, Nikkei reckons.

Memory is the bulk of the company's chip business, which had revenue of 1.57 trillion yen (nearly $14bn) in 2015. Western Digital would be a logical partner, since the two companies run a flash memory plant in Yokkaichi in the Mie Prefecture.

Toshiba struck trouble after spending years buying up rivals in the nuclear energy business. In December, it warned it would to take a hit of several billion dollars over the 2015 acquisition of CB&I Stone & Webster, a nuclear power plant construction concern. The 2006, $5.4bn acquisition of Westinghouse has also proved troublesome, and in 2015 Toshiba had to write down the value of that business by $2.3bn.

It's not the first time Toshiba's memory business has been under a cloud. In December 2015, the company denied speculation it would exit the NAND business, amid an accounting scandal.

Toshiba was caught outoverstating profits by $1.2bn over several years. ®

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