Apple considers bidding for stake in Toshiba chip biz

Apple considers bidding for stake in Toshiba chip biz

Apple considers bidding for stake in Toshiba chip biz

Apple is considering teaming up with its supplier Foxconn to bid for Toshiba Corp’s semiconductor business, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported on Friday — the latest twist in the sale of the world's second-biggest flash memory chipmaker.

The US technology giant is considering investing at least several billion dollars to take a stake of more than 20% as part of a plan that would have Toshiba keep a partial holding so the business remains under the US and Japanese control, NHK reported, citing unidentified sources.

The idea would be to allay Japanese government concerns about any transfer of sensitive technology to investors it deems a potential risk to national security, the broadcaster said.

Apple was not immediately available to comment. Taiwan’s Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, declined to comment. A Toshiba spokesman said he could not comment on specific transactions.

Foxconn, which participated in the first round of the chip sale auction, has been considered a national security risk due to its ties with China. The bulk of Apple’s iPhones are made at Foxconn’s extensive manufacturing base there.

NHK said Apple wants Foxconn to own a stake of around 30% of Toshiba’s chip business.

Global manufacturer
An investment by Apple would be its first direct stake in a major global memory chipmaker, as it seeks to secure a stable supply of key components. Samsung Electronics is the biggest maker of flash memory chips, followed by Toshiba, SK Hynix and the US-based Micron Technology.

The NHK report comes as Western Digital Corp, Toshiba’s partner and one of the bidders for its chip business, warned this week that the Japanese firm's plans to sell its chip unit violates a joint venture contract. Western Digital wants to be given exclusive negotiating rights.