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posted by martyb on Thursday September 14, @06:42AM   Printer-friendly
from the chipped-away dept.

Some news outlets reported that Western Digital was close to acquiring Toshiba's memory business, but that had not been finalized as of Tuesday:

Toshiba Corp now favors a group led by Bain Capital LP and SK Hynix Inc to buy its prized semiconductor business, as it failed to bridge key gaps with its business partner and rival bidder Western Digital Corp, two people briefed on the matter said on Tuesday.

The dramatic twist in the sale process, beset by legal wrangling and revised bids, comes just a day before Toshiba's latest deadline. The Japanese conglomerate, which needs to sell the chip business to plug a huge hole in its finances, had been trying to seal a deal by Wednesday with the Western Digital group but now hopes to reach agreement with the Bain group by next week, said the sources, who declined to be identified as the talks were private.

A Toshiba spokesman said the firm could not comment on details of the talks. The parties have already missed two deadlines by Toshiba's banks, which want a deal to pump $18 billion or more into the company to pull it out of negative shareholder equity and prevent it from being delisted. Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, an external Toshiba director, told reporters earlier on Tuesday that although the deadline is important, it is also important that negotiations head in a good direction.

Apple, a buyer of Toshiba's NAND chips, reportedly threatened Western Digital with a boycott of its products if it took complete control of Toshiba's memory business. But it did offer $460 million in acquisition financing for a group including WD as long as WD remained a minority investor.

Update: Toshiba says it favors a bid from a group led by Bain Capital, but is still open to better offers.

Toshiba to focus on chip talks with Bain, but doesn't rule out other suitors

Start the Bidding War, Toshiba

Previously: Broadcom and Japanese Government Considering Bid for Toshiba's Semiconductor Unit
Samsung Could Boost NAND Production Capacity, WD Intervenes in Toshiba Memory Sale
Toshiba Sues Western Digital as it Seeks to Sell its Memory Business to a Third Party


Original Submission

Related Stories

Broadcom and Japanese Government Considering Bid for Toshiba's Semiconductor Unit 4 comments

A joint bid by the U.S. company Broadcom Limited and the Japanese government may keep Toshiba's chip business out of the hands of China or South Korea:

A Japanese government-backed fund and policy bank are considering a joint bid with Broadcom Ltd for Toshiba Corp's semiconductor business, a move that would vault the U.S. chipmaker into the lead to buy the prized unit, the Asahi newspaper said on Wednesday.

A bid by Innovation Network Corp of Japan and the Development Bank of Japan with Broadcom would appear to be aimed at preventing Toshiba's chip technology from going to rivals in China or South Korea, the Asahi said, citing an unidentified source.

INCJ Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga said on Tuesday the fund was looking at the chip auction although it had not participated in the first round of bidding. People familiar with the matter have told Reuters INCJ might invest in the business as a minority partner - a move that would help the government prevent a sale to bidders it deems risky to national security.

Previously: Toshiba and SanDisk Announce 48-Layer 256 Gb 3D NAND
Toshiba in Trouble
Toshiba Teasing QLC 3D NAND and TSV for More Layers
Toshiba Envisions a 100 TB QLC SSD in the "Near Future"
Toshiba Considers NAND Business Split; Samsung Delays Release of 4 TB SSDs (WD is a bidder)
SK Hynix to Bid for Toshiba's Memory Business
Toshiba Nuked Half its Assets
Huge Nuclear Cost Overruns Push Toshiba's Westinghouse Into Bankruptcy
Toshiba Warns That its Survival is at Risk


Original Submission

Samsung Could Boost NAND Production Capacity, WD Intervenes in Toshiba Memory Sale 3 comments

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-samsung-elec-chips-idUSKBN18P04K

Tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Monday it is considering adding NAND memory chip production capacity at its manufacturing base in China amid an industry-wide boom that will likely fuel record sales for memory suppliers.

Samsung, the world's biggest memory chip maker by sales, has already invested $7 billion in the Xi'an facility to make 3D NAND memory chips. The chips are used for high-end data storage products on electronic devices such as smartphones, personal computers and data servers, and their prices have surged in recent months as suppliers struggle to keep up with demand.

[...] Researcher IHS expects this year's memory industry revenue to jump 32 percent to a record $104 billion.

Recently, Western Digital sought to intervene in the sale of Toshiba's memory business, rather than purchase the division itself. Originally valued at $18 billion, Foxconn has bid $27 billion and Broadcom bid $28 billion.

Western Digital, through its SanDisk subsidiary, is seeking arbitration to prevent Toshiba from selling off its stake in their flash memory joint venture without the consent of Western Digital. [...] Western Digital does have leverage in their preexisting relationship with Toshiba as co-owner of their flash memory joint venture. Western Digital is alleging that Toshiba is required to obtain Western Digital's consent before spinning off or selling Toshiba Memory, and that Toshiba's actions so far have violated their agreements with Western Digital. Western Digital has initiated arbitration proceedings against Toshiba, seeking to block further action without Western Digital's consent and to reverse the Toshiba Memory spin-off.


Original Submission

Toshiba Sues Western Digital as it Seeks to Sell its Memory Business to a Third Party 1 comment

Toshiba wants to sell off its memory business, but not to Western Digital (just yet):

Toshiba was hoping to complete a deal with the winning bidder at a shareholder meeting yesterday. In the weeks leading up to that meeting, Toshiba had to issue several reminders of how desperate their financial state is: disclosing new legal actions against them by investors seeking damages pertaining to Toshiba's accounting scandals, announcing that the Tokyo and Nagoya stock exchanges are moving toward delisting Toshiba, and revising their outlook for fiscal year 2016 to reflect a negative shareholder equity of (¥581.6B). Meanwhile, Western Digital reiterated their objection to Toshiba selling the memory business to a third party and warned several third parties that they would view participation in the sale as tortious interference. Most recently, Western Digital also reportedly resubmitted its bid for Toshiba's memory business with an offer around ¥2 trillion, close to the amount offered by the consortium Toshiba had previously selected as the preferred bidder. Toshiba for their part has made no mention of Western Digital's offer.

In the aftermath of yesterday's shareholder meeting, Toshiba made several announcements. As expected, Toshiba was not able to finalize a sale of the Toshiba Memory Corporation subsidiary they have consolidated the memory-related assets under, but they are continuing to negotiate with the consortium. Toshiba announced plans for further investment in the joint venture's Fab 6 in Yokkaichi, Japan, and questioned whether SanDisk would jointly invest in the 3D NAND fab. Toshiba also announced that it has filed a lawsuit in the Tokyo District Court against Western Digital alleging unfair competition and seeking an injunction and damages. Toshiba claims that Western Digital is exaggerating their consent rights and also alleges that Western Digital has improperly obtained Toshiba trade secrets by transferring some employees from SanDisk to Western Digital whom have access to Toshiba confidential information through the joint ventures.

Previously:
Western Digital Announces 96-Layer 3D NAND, Including Both TLC and QLC
Toshiba Considers NAND Business Split; Samsung Delays Release of 4 TB SSDs
Broadcom and Japanese Government Considering Bid for Toshiba's Semiconductor Unit
Samsung Could Boost NAND Production Capacity, WD Intervenes in Toshiba Memory Sale


Original Submission

Toshiba Decides to Sell Semiconductor Business to Bain Capital for $18 Billion 16 comments

Western Digital has apparently been spurned as Toshiba has agreed to sell its semiconductor business to Bain Capital instead for around $18 billion. The deal has not been finalized so more confusion could be over the horizon:

Japan's Toshiba Corp agreed on Wednesday to sell its prized semiconductor business to a group led by U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital LP, a key step in keeping the struggling Japanese conglomerate listed on the Tokyo exchange. In a last-minute twist to a long and highly contentious auction, Toshiba said in a late-night announcement through the exchange it agreed to sign a contract for the deal worth about 2 trillion yen (13.22 billion pounds).

The decision to sell the world's No. 2 producer of NAND memory chips, first reported by Reuters, was made at a board meeting earlier on Wednesday. Late on Tuesday, sources had said Toshiba was leaning towards selling the business to its U.S. joint venture partner Western Digital Corp. It's unclear whether the sale to the Bain Capital-led group will proceed smoothly, as Western Digital has previously initiated legal action against Toshiba, arguing that no deal can be done without its consent due to its position as Toshiba's joint venture chip partner.

Also at NYT, Engadget, Nasdaq, BBC, and Bloomberg (alt opinion).

Previously: Chaos as Toshiba Tries to Sell Memory Business


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by ledow on Thursday September 14, @07:10AM (6 children)

    by ledow (5567) Subscriber Badge on Thursday September 14, @07:10AM (#567676) Homepage

    "Apple, a buyer of Toshiba's NAND chips, reportedly threatened Western Digital with a boycott of its products if it took complete control of Toshiba's memory business"

    So you inform the competition commissions and then do it anyway.

    Seriously, who the hell wants to do business with people like that?

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by TheRaven on Thursday September 14, @07:31AM (1 child)

      by TheRaven (270) on Thursday September 14, @07:31AM (#567678) Journal

      People who want to stay in business? Informing competition commissions is unlikely to do much, because monopolies are tightly regulated but monopsonies are not. Apple has had enough purchasing power to disrupt the flash market for a long time, but no one has cared. Back when the iPod shuffle launched, it was cheaper than most flash drives because Apple bought something like 60% of all flash chips produced and so could sell retail below what most of their competitors were paying wholesale.

      It's generally bad for a business to depend on a single customer too much. I know a couple of startups that went bust because they allowed a single customer to grow to the majority of their business, and when that customer decided to be late with payments they weren't able to cover their running costs. The music industry learned that giving Apple complete control of online music distribution put Apple in too strong a bargaining position and only escaped by changing the rules. It's a difficult position to get out of though, because a supplier generally has very little control over what their downstream market looks like.

      --
      sudo mod me up
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by ledow on Thursday September 14, @08:11AM

        by ledow (5567) Subscriber Badge on Thursday September 14, @08:11AM (#567690) Homepage

        "It's generally bad for a business to depend on a single customer too much."

        Exactly. So staying in business means broadening your base and not allowing one customer to dictate your business.

        It shouldn't have been allowed to get to that position while it was just Toshiba, it prevents them selling their own business for a start, If you're a buyer, you'll walk away like WD has done, or stand to lose that customer and adjust your purchase price according to the risk (i.e. down).

        What you end up with is a company that you can only sell to your own customer, which can dictate its own pricing. "Here's a dollar, now I own you because no-one else will touch you if I walk away", in effect.

        It is anti-competitive, and making the noise of that may well make them back away from that. It's the only option unless you just want to sell all your fabs below-cost to Apple. Sure, it'll hurt, but whatever way you look at it, Toshiba memory in Apple devices will be dead from then on anyway - either it'll be Apple-owned Toshiba memory, no Toshiba memory in Apple devices, or no Toshiba memory at all. Make a fuss in court and at least you stand to keep your other customers and maybe Apple will just pull out and go elsewhere instead so you can sell-off.

        Fact is, getting in bed with Apple is never a good idea. I wouldn't be surprised if someone like Samsung tried to snap the company up now. I'm pretty sure Apple would like to lose to WD if the other option was losing to Samsung.

    • (Score: 2) by Virindi on Thursday September 14, @07:57AM (3 children)

      by Virindi (3484) on Thursday September 14, @07:57AM (#567682)

      No kidding. Trying to dictate the entirety of another industry because of your purchasing power, based on being a big player somewhere else, is basically the definition of anticompetitive practice.

      Nobody gives a crap anymore. Or maybe they never did.

      I wish we could live in a world where the same rules apply to everyone, regardless of how many "jobs" you create in the right district or how much politicians love your products. Seems impossible from here at this point.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by TheRaven on Thursday September 14, @10:25AM (2 children)

        by TheRaven (270) on Thursday September 14, @10:25AM (#567721) Journal

        Trying to dictate the entirety of another industry because of your purchasing power, based on being a big player somewhere else, is basically the definition of anticompetitive practice.

        No it isn't. It's an example of anticompetitive practice, but it's not the one that's most regulated. Most antitrust regulations are designed around excessive influence on the supply side, not the demand side. There are a lot of examples of excessive control on the demand side. For example, in the UK the supermarkets have driven the price of milk so low that farmers often make a loss selling it: their choice is either accept a below-cost offer or get nothing for a product that will have gone off in a couple of days. In the US, Walmart has been pushing their suppliers to accept razor-think margins and pushing several of them out of business for years.

        Regulating the demand side is a lot harder, because that end of the supply chain ends with consumers. If consumers all decide that they prefer, for example, Android devices to iOS ones, and then shops refuse to sell iOS devices unless there's a big price cut, is this the shops exerting undue influence on Apple?

        --
        sudo mod me up
        • (Score: 2) by Virindi on Thursday September 14, @10:46AM (1 child)

          by Virindi (3484) on Thursday September 14, @10:46AM (#567728)

          Okay, that was hyperbole. You got me :)

          However, the examples you give are of a different nature. In this case, Apple is trying to manipulate the playing field in a different industry. That is a bit different than merely demanding suppliers give you a very low price.

          • (Score: 4, Interesting) by TheRaven on Thursday September 14, @11:27AM

            by TheRaven (270) on Thursday September 14, @11:27AM (#567736) Journal

            It's not very different. It's actually less bad in some respects: typically anticompetitive practice means that they're trying to get a monopoly. In this instance, Apple is trying to avoid anyone else getting a monopoly (or a sufficiently large share of the market that they can act as if they do). They're doing this because as long as the suppliers don't get too big, they retain a dominant bargaining position as the largest single customer for flash chips. If their suppliers consolidate, they'll be in a position to tell Apple to take it or leave it when it comes to price negotiations, because no one else will have the capacity to handle Apple's demand.

            The ironic thing here is that Apple is actually pushing for more or less the same thing that antitrust regulators would normally push for. They want a healthy competitive market for flash suppliers. Only this time they want it because they buy so much flash that they can set the prices in a competitive market, whereas they couldn't in a monopoly. It's quite interesting to see a large company effectively arguing for better competition regulation (just not in their own markets).

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            sudo mod me up
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Rivenaleem on Thursday September 14, @10:54AM (3 children)

    by Rivenaleem (3400) on Thursday September 14, @10:54AM (#567729)

    Toshiba tries to sell Memory business, but forgot where it put it.

    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday September 14, @06:12PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Thursday September 14, @06:12PM (#567982)

      Toshiba's clearly got some wear leveling issues throughout.

    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday September 14, @10:03PM (1 child)

      by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Thursday September 14, @10:03PM (#568107) Homepage
      It's not lost, but apparently access to it is pretty random.
      --
      I was worried about my command. I was the scientist of the Holy Ghost.
      • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Thursday September 14, @10:15PM

        by Rivenaleem (3400) on Thursday September 14, @10:15PM (#568110)

        Wow, just gotta ram them puns in any way you can.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, @04:19PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, @04:19PM (#567881)

    Chaos? A bit dramatical, I think.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, @05:05PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, @05:05PM (#567934)

    They will do the same things for which Romney was accused. Pump the company, and carve up the corpse, for maximum profit.

  • (Score: 2) by PocketSizeSUn on Thursday September 14, @09:18PM

    by PocketSizeSUn (5340) on Thursday September 14, @09:18PM (#568088)

    So buying up their competition makes sense for WD. However it will both:
        - drive up prices.
        - possibly crater WD
    The problem being that memory fabs are expensive and if Samsung finds a way to make it cheaper and large enough volume, all of WDs vertical products could become either old/slow and over priced in the market.
    It's actually in everyone's best interest, including WDs in the medium term, not have WD controlling too much ... do you really want Seagate as the only remaining drive manufacturer?

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