SK hynix says negotiations still necessary for Toshiba deal

SEOUL-- South Korean chipmaker SK hynix Inc. said Thursday that Japan's Toshiba Corp. has agreed to sell stakes in its memory business to a consortium that includes South Korea's No. 2 chipmaker and U.S. investment firm Bain Capital, although details of the deal are still subject to further negotiations.

"As details of the approval made by Toshiba's board of directors still need to be negotiated, SK hynix will continue with discussions to best reflect our interests," the company said in a regulatory filing.

The announcement came after Toshiba's board of directors reportedly decided to sell its chipmaking unit to the consortium earlier this week.

The consortium includes Bain Capital, the Development Bank of Japan and SK hynix, as well as Apple Inc. and Dell Inc. Other U.S. tech firms have also reportedly joined the consortium.

Through a press release, Toshiba said it will sell all shares of Toshiba Memory Corporation to Pangea, a special purpose acquisition company formed by a Bain-led consortium.

"With the aim of ensuring a stable business transfer, Toshiba will invest 350.5 billion yen (US$3.1 billion) in Pangea, and Toshiba will also be entitled to related financial benefits, such as dividends," Toshiba said.

"Toshiba now aims to close the transaction by the end of March 2018," it added.

Toshiba has been seeking to sell its stake in its memory operations as it struggles with losses from its nuclear power business in the United States.

The Japanese firm is the world's second-largest maker of NAND flash memory chips, mainly used in smartphones and other mobile devices. Accordingly, the deal is widely expected to benefit SK hynix as the South Korean player has also been seeking to beef up its competitiveness in the segment.

While the consortium including SK hynix was tapped as the preferred bidder in June, Toshiba changed its partner to U.S.-based Western Digital in August, although it eventually returned to the negotiation table this month.

As Toshiba plans to ink the deal by the end of this month, industry watchers said the Japanese company is expected to come up with a final deal by next week.

Bain Capital is expected to hold a 49.9 percent stake in the business, with Toshiba and other Japanese firms taking up 40 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively, in an apparent bid to secure Japan's interest, industry watchers said.

Industry watchers added the move to include Apple and Dell is also aimed at securing stable clients for Toshiba's memory products.

The consortium's bid to secure stakes in Toshiba's memory business, however, may also face hurdles down the road as it has not yet signed the stock purchase agreement, they added.

"Western Digital may come up with a new offer, and the intention of the Japanese government or creditors may also emerge as another variable," an industry insider said, claiming situations may change down the line.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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