Apple joins Bain Capital's bid for Toshiba's NAND business

Apple depends on flash memory from Toshiba in its iPhones and iPods and wants a continued supply so it’s not dependent on rival Samsung Electronics Co

Toshiba Corp failed to seal a deal to sell its prized chip business by an internal deadline of Thursday, raising doubts about whether it can plug a balance sheet hole in time to avoid a delisting and keep the unit competitive.

In an effort to stay afloat, the company is selling off its profitable NAND manufacturing arm, which is the world's second largest manufacturer of flash chips.

According to reports by Reuters, Apple has been brought in to help bolster the bid, as Toshiba and drive manufacturer Western Digital struggle to strike a deal, despite the two partnering on the joint venture chip business. "Meanwhile, Samsung is showing drive in the 3D NAND market, including building a factory dedicated to 3D NAND".

"Toshiba is looking for a purchaser of TMC that is able to deliver flexible, rapid decision-making and enhanced financial options, and to promote further growth of TMC's memory business, while also being capable of contributing enough value from the sale of TMC to return the Toshiba group to positive equity", the company said in the statement.

Reports said iPhone maker Apple too has jumped into the race with a consortium offering to pay about $20 billion for the unit. Western Digital says that it will not be forced out.

In June 2017 Toshiba announced the Bain Capital led Japan-U.S. Apple is reportedly joining a bidding group that's led by Bain Capital and includes SK Hynix and a collection of Japanese banks.

Combined, Toshiba and Western Digital could be nearly as large as Samsung's memory unit, which could give a combined company more negotiating leverage against Apple.

Sources familiar the matter have said talks with Western Digital were in final stages but the two sides were struggling to come to an agreement over the US company's future stake in the business. A Western Digital representative declined to comment.

The announcement does not mention Apple, which Bloomberg reported on Wednesday is in talks with Bain Capital to submit an additional bid.

Toshiba wants to reach a deal soon and it is not clear if it will give serious consideration to Bain's new proposal. Toshiba's relationship with US-based Western Digital has been rocky throughout the auction process, to the point that other bidders were favoured first.

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