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Western Digital pitches in on US$17.4B Toshiba chip unit offer

Western Digital pitches in on US$17.4B Toshiba chip unit offer

Sources flag fresh offer for the Japanese conglomerate's memory chip business

A consortium that includes Western Digital is offering 1.9 trillion yen (US$17.4 billion) for Toshiba Corp's memory chip business, which the Japanese conglomerate is trying to sell to cover losses from its US nuclear business, sources said on Thursday.

Western Digital is set to offer 150 billion yen through convertible bonds and will not seek voting rights in the business, the sources who were familiar with the deal said.

The consortium also includes U.S. private equity firm KKR & Co. as well as the state-backed Innovation Network Corp of Japan and Development Bank of Japan, all of which will offer 300 billion yen each for the chip business, the sources said.

Under the proposal, Toshiba's lenders including Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp and Mizuho Bank would also extend around 700 billion yen in loans, they said.

Other Japanese companies will also invest around 50 billion yen to ensure domestic firms hold a combined 60 per cent stake, the sources said, adding that Toshiba itself would keep a 100 billion yen stake in the business.

Toshiba said it could not comment on discussions with potential suitors for the chips business. Western Digital said it could not comment immediately, while KKR declined to comment. The sources requested anonymity because the talks were confidential.

Reuters has reported earlier that the group was offering around 2 trillion yen but it was unclear how much each party in the group was prepared to offer and whether Western Digital would insist on obtaining voting rights.

Sources have said that Toshiba wants to reach a deal by the end of the month and close the sale by the end of the fiscal year in March to ensure it does not report negative net worth, or liabilities exceeding assets, for a second year running. This could result in a delisting from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Given regulatory approvals could take more than six months, the company has been hoping to reach a deal by the end of the month to ensure it can close the sale in time.

(Reporting by Taro Fuse; Additional reporting by Makiko Yamazaki, Kentaro Hamada and Yoshiyasu Shida; Writing by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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