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Chip Sale To Throw Up Tricky Path For Japanese Conglomerate Toshiba

Chip Sale To Throw Up Tricky Path For Japanese Conglomerate Toshiba
The difficult process of negotiating a sale of its memory chip operations that meets its financial needs while addressing government security concerns is set to be faced by Toshiba after gaining shareholder approval and after the completion of the first round of bidding.
Apparently tendering a buying value of roughly 2 trillion yen ($17.9 billion) bid is the U.S. private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners and American chipmaker Broadcom, part of the firm's portfolio. For the memory business' value, that is on the high end of estimates.
At an extraordinary meeting Thursday, shareholders gave the green light to a spinoff of the business. To fill the hole in its finances left by nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric's bankruptcy filing, the Japanese conglomerate plans to sell a majority stake in the new entity.
The sale has drawn keen interest because just behind only Samsung Electronics, Toshiba is the world's second-largest memory chip manufacturer by market share. Stepping forward in the bid process are around 10 bidders which includes South Korea's SK Hynix  and peers such as U.S.-based Western Digital, a hard-drive maker that partners with Toshiba on memory.
While Broadcom is after chips for commercial telecommunications equipment, Silver Lake likely anticipates synergies with tech group Dell Technologies, another of its investment holdings.
The sale would be complicated by security issues. Solid-state drives that store classified information protected with advanced encryption make use of Toshiba memory chips. Leaks of military or diplomatic secrets could be the result if this technology is ceded to a foreign company, Tokyo worries.
A government review would be required for any proposed investment in Toshiba Memory by a foreign enterprise. Given the security alliance between the countries, an American buyer would apparently be preferred by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. A senior ministry official said that ensuring growth at Toshiba's chipmaking facilities in Yokkaichi, Japan, and avoiding technology outflows would be the two deciding factors.
The ministry plans to seek support from the government-backed Development Bank of Japan and the public-private Innovation Network Corp. of Japan, while the details of Toshiba's turnaround are still being hashed out.
Covering such issues as leak prevention and protecting jobs, before launching a second round of bidding, Toshiba will begin negotiating with individual candidates next month. Whether prospective buyers intend to resell their stake eventually will be sought to be confirmed by Toshiba. A senior executive said that before the general shareholders meeting in late June, the company hopes to pick a winning bid.
When the current fiscal year ends Friday, it liabilities are expected to exceed its assets by roughly 620 billion yen by Toshiba. To bring its net worth back into positive territory, Toshiba would need to earn 1 trillion yen from the sale, after taking taxes into consideration. the business would need to sell for around 1.5 trillion yen for Toshiba to net 1 trillion yen assuming the memory operations' net assets are worth 500 billion yen to 600 billion yen.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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