However, if Western Digital remains a minority investor in the business, Apple, a top customer for Toshiba chips, is offering about 50 billion yen ($460 million) to a group including the United States firm to help finance a bid, one source said.
Reports have emerged that Toshiba is desperate to sell the chip business, in light of the billions of dollars of liabilities associated with its U.S. nuclear unit endeavours.
Bain and SK Hynix representatives were not immediately available for comment, while Toshiba declined to comment on details of the deal negotiations.
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. Its upped bid of around ¥2.4 trillion ($22.3bn) compares with an original bid of about ¥1.9 trillion on the table from Western Digital, which following its $19bn acquisition of SanDisk a year ago may well be financially stretched to match the offer on the table from Bain.
According to Reuters, the Western Digital-led consortium has also increased its bid, but now needs to allay Toshiba’s fears that its bid could be embroiled in an investigation with anti-trust authorities, either in Japan or elsewhere, given its dominance of the hard-disk storage market and its ownership of NAND flash brand SanDisk.
Toshiba has for months been trying to hammer out a deal to sell TMC in order to help offset massive losses from its USA nuclear power business. 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.
The voting equity will be shared between: Bain Capital (49.9%), Toshiba (40%) and Japanese companies (10.1 percent).
Toshiba’s board is reportedly scheduled to meet on Wednesday to consider the bids.
All three bidder groups have roped in Apple to bolster their offers, sources have said.