WDC may form carrion consortium to snap up Toshiba's flash memory biz

Vultures continue circling not-quite-corpse

Western Digital may form a consortium to buy up Toshiba’s hotly disputed NAND flash memory unit, according to reports.

Back in April WD Corporation (WDC) chief exec Steve Milligan said his company was willing to bail out the ailing Tosh. The two firms have been at each other’s throats for months over their joint venture in the Toshiba's main flash foundry.

Financial newswire Reuters now reports that WD is pondering a new consortium to buy up the unit and may even settle for being a minority investor, increasing its stake when the two other partners in the proposed consortium, the Innovation Corporation Network of Japan and US private equity biz KKR, decide enough is enough.

A couple of weeks ago The Register revealed that WDC was taking Toshiba to arbitration over its attempts to sell the memory biz.

According to Reuters, WDC’s initial bid for Tosh’s memory division was one of the lowest received in the first round of offers, even though it had previously said it was looking for a 51 per cent stake in order to remain competitive.

Toshiba has struggled to remain afloat following huge losses in its Westinghouse Electric nuclear power station subsidiary. According to Toshiba, WDC is trying to capitalise on that and Tosh is not happy about it, to put it mildly.

“This is bizarre and indicative of a near total breakdown in Toshiba-WDC relations. Toshiba needs more cash than WDC is offering. WDC wants to buy the memory business for less than Toshiba could get elsewhere. It tried to play the contract law card in this extraordinarily high-stakes game and so force Toshiba's hand,” opined El Reg’s storage guru Chris Mellor earlier this month.

Other companies tipped to have an interest in the unit are Foxconn, Broadcom and SK Hynix. Bids by all four range from $9bn to $27bn. ®


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