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More bids expected as Toshiba edges closer towards memory chip business sale

Bidding for Toshiba’s memory chip business progresses as potential buyers enter the process.

Toshiba has moved a step closer to selling its memory chip business, with new bids expected to be made by a joint US and Japan-backed venture.

According to Nikkei Asian Review reports, US-based private equity firm, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), and Japanese government-backed fund, Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ), will make a joint offer for the business division in the coming weeks.

Specifically, the report indicated that both companies will tender a joint offer - with the size of the deal still to be determined - and will participate in the second bidding round which is set to occur in May following due diligence on Toshiba Memory.

In addition, the news publication also claims that Toshiba partner, Western Digital and the Development Bank of Japan could also join in on the bidding process.

Toshiba is expected to progress its sale by picking a bidder before its general shareholdings meeting in June.

Currently, reports suggest that the Japanese vendor has narrowed down the number of bidders by about half from the first round of bidding that occurred last month.

ARN recently reported that Apple could have been considering partnering with Foxconn Technology Group to purchase a major stake in Toshiba's semiconductor unit.

Foxconn Technology Group was also separately said to be preparing a US$27 billion bid to acquire the vendor's computer chip assets.

Some of the world’s largest tech companies, including Google, Amazon, and Kingston Technology were also reportedly in the running, alongside a number of investment funds.

According to increased industry speculation, some of those shortlisted for purchase include Western Digital, Broadcom, SK Hynix, and Foxconn Technology Group.

The report also identified that the Toshiba Memory unit has garnered about US$18.3 billion to US$27.5 billion in bids, but attributed comment to a senior Toshiba executive that said “the amount offered isn’t everything”.

This is because the company expects a buyer to ensure jobs are preserved and that capital spend on chip production is ongoing, in addition to engaging with the Japanese government on its interests, according to the report.

On 12 April, ARN reported that Toshiba has raised doubts over its ability to continue as a going concern with its net income dipping to nearly US$5.59 billion in losses for the third quarter of financial year 2016, running between October and December last year.

The company's latest result is a decrease of about US$1.12 billion from the same corresponding period the year before.

Toshiba will be announcing its full-year financial results for FY2016 in mid-May.