Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Toshiba Said to Plan Selling Chip Unit Stake to Multiple Buyers

  • Canon and private equity funds are among potential buyers
  • Toshiba’s board will discuss the sale at a meeting on Friday

Toshiba Corp. is planning to split the sale of a stake in its chip unit among several investors, including Canon Inc. and private equity funds, a person familiar with the matter said.

The conglomerate aims to retain control over the memory chip operations after selling a 20 to 30 percent stake and bringing in multiple investors would help with that goal, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. Western Digital Corp., a partner in Toshiba’s chip business, probably won’t participate due to antitrust concerns, the person said. Toshiba’s board will discuss the sale at a meeting on Friday with the goal of deciding on buyers next month and completing the payment in March, the person said. The talks are still at an early stage so the size of the sale and the number of investors may still change.

The Japanese company has said it’s considering spinning off its chip operations to help pay for writedowns at its nuclear unit, which could run into the billions of dollars. The troubles come two years after a profit-padding scandal in 2015 that led to record losses and prompted the company to cut staff and sell off some of its assets. The total value of Toshiba’s memory business is between 1 trillion and 2 trillion yen ($18 billion), the person said.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is working with Toshiba on the sale, people with knowledge of the matter said this week. Canon will consider an investment if invited, said Hirotomo Fujimori, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Canon. Toshiba spokeswoman Kaori Hiraki declined to comment.

NAND flash memory, used in smartphones and solid state disk drives, is one of the few bright spots in Toshiba’s sprawling portfolio, which also includes personal computers, TVs, railway systems and elevators. Memory chips generated 50.1 billion yen in profit in the fiscal first half, accounting for more than half of total operating income profit in the period.

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