It looks like Toshiba may have decided to sell its memory chip unit to a group led by Western Digital for about 2 trillion yen (US$18.29 billion), if claims in a report by Japan's Nikkan Kogyo newspaper is on the money.
The media outlet reported, without citing sources, that Toshiba plans to take a decision on 13 September and make the decision official on 20 September, according to the report.
The new development in the long-running chip business sale process could not immediately be confirmed.
Toshiba was still in discussions over the sale as of late Monday, 11 September, sources said.
Western Digital, which jointly invests in Toshiba's key chip plant, has been at loggerheads with its partner over the auction of the key chip business.
The new report comes just days after a rival bidding consortium, including Bain Capital and South Korea's SK Hynix reportedly raised its offer for Toshiba's chip business to 2.4 trillion yen (US$22.3 billion), including a 200 billion yen investment in infrastructure, sources familiar with the matter said.
The offer by that consortium, which is led by the US private equity group and the South Korean chipmaker as well as Japanese state-backed investors, was higher than an initial offer of around 1.94 trillion yen, according to the sources, who requested anonymity because the talks were confidential.
Toshiba has been desperate to sell its chip unit and cover billions of liabilities at its US nuclear unit Westinghouse. As recently as last week it said it was considering three competing offers including one led by Taiwan's Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn.
All three bidder groups have roped in Apple to bolster their offers, sources have said.
The report by Nikkan Kogyo also comes after rumours that Western Digital had offered to drop out of a group bidding for Toshiba's coveted flash memory chip business to take a stronger position in their joint venture instead, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
However, in late August, sources indicated that Western Digital’s chief executive had gone to Tokyo to finalise an agreement to buy Toshiba’s memory chip business, ending months of dispute over the auction.
It should be noted that any such deal is yet to be confirmed by Toshiba.
(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru and Ritsuko Ando in Tokyo; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)