A consortium lead by Bain Capital, and reported to include Apple, has taken a step forward in its bid to buy Toshiba's memory chip unit.
Toshiba said it has entered into a memorandum of understanding with private equity group Bain, the lead member of a consortium currently bidding to acquire the Toshiba Memory Corporation (TMC), with the aim of agreeing the sale of TMC by the end of this month.
Toshiba has been in negotiations with three groups of potential buyers of its TMC business: a consortium that includes the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, Bain and Development Bank of Japan; a consortium that includes Western Digital; and a consortium that includes Hon Hai.
According to Reuters, Apple is also part of the Bain consortium. Being part of the deal could help Apple keep its memory chip supply chain more competitive. Bain's offer is believed to be around $18bn according to The Wall Street Journal.
Toshiba said it will work to "expedite the conclusion of a stock purchase agreement" by the end of September, but said signing the non-binding MOU "does not eliminate" the possibility of negotiations with other groups. Toshiba senior executive vice president Yasuo Naruke said: "The sale of TMC must promote further growth of TMC's memory business, and return Toshiba group to positive equity.
He added: "The memory business is highly time sensitive. It requires timely investments, accelerated product development, and the ability to quickly ramp-up large-scale production capacity."
He said TMC is now proceeding with an investment in manufacturing equipment for the Fab 6 clean room at its Yokkaichi Operations, and they aim to increase the output of 3D Flash memory at Yokkaichi to approximately 90 percent of capacity in 2018.
"Moving forward, we will continue to make timely investments to expand operations to meet growing market demand," he said.