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Apple may team up with Foxconn to bid for Toshiba's chip business

Apple may team up with Foxconn to bid for Toshiba's chip business

The Cupertino-based iPhone maker is also taking into consideration the possibility of partnering with Hon Hai Precision Industry also known as Foxxconn Technology to bid for Toshiba's chip business.

The Cupertino-based company is reportedly looking to invest several billion dollars to acquire a more than 20% stake, which would enable Toshiba to maintain a partial stake in order to the business both under United States and Japanese control. Elpida is now owned by USA -based Micron Technology Inc. It can store 512Gbits (64GB) per chip. Toshiba's Westinghouse unit, which is behind a 716.6 billion yen impairment at the center of the imbroglio, is mired in lawsuits and has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring. The remaining players include South Korea chip producer SK Hynix, Foxconn and Western Digital.

Neither Toshiba nor WD have confirmed a potential sale, however.

Toshiba has been looking to sell its chip business as it is facing an extensive financial crisis, which has in part been triggered by the bankruptcy of its US nuclear energy subsidiary Westinghouse Electric.

Access to fresh funds would help tide Toshiba over before it can complete the sale of the chips business.

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Apple's move to join the bidding pool may be an attempt to more aggressively compete with Samsung in the smart phone markets.

"It seems like they are selling the Golden Goose and keeping the money pit", said Jim Handy, an analyst with Objective-Analysis, referring to Toshiba.

Toshiba executives are now in the process of selecting bidders for the semiconductor business. "A captive source of supply is a good thing to have during a shortage, but can be a millstone during an oversupply". An investment by Apple would keep a majority of the semiconductor operations under USA and Japanese control and satisfy the respective governments, NHK said.

There have been four main suitors for Toshiba's semiconductor business: USA chipmaker Broadcom in partnership with Silver Lake Partners, South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix; Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn; and Western Digital. A direct sale without keeping WD in the loop would be a violation of the joint venture contract. WD's SanDisk holds a 49.9% share in the FlashAlliance and a Toshiba has a 50.1% share. Such an arrangement could allay the Japanese government's concerns about any transfer of sensitive technology to investors, which it categorizes as a threat to national security, the report said.

The relations between Japan and China aren't the best.

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