Mon | Dec 18, 2017

Bain hoping to settle with Western Digital on Toshiba deal

Published:Friday | October 6, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The investment fund heading the consortium that plans to buy Toshiba Corp's memory chip business said Thursday it will try to reach a speedy settlement with Western Digital, the United States joint-venture partner of Toshiba that is opposing the sale.

Yuji Sugimoto, the Japan head of Bain Capital, said the •2-trillion (US$18-billion) deal Toshiba agreed to last month with a consortium led by Bain will go ahead, despite Western Digital's efforts to stop it through litigation.

He told reporters at a Tokyo hotel that Western Digital remains an important partner, and a speedy resolution will benefit both sides. He declined to elaborate, saying litigation was ongoing.

"Even partners may develop differences," Sugimoto said.

The consortium aims to list the NAND flash-memory SanDisk joint-venture business on the Tokyo Stock Exchange within several years, Sugimoto said.

Tokyo-based Toshiba, suffering massive losses over its nuclear business, sorely needs the sale to survive. Its US nuclear operations at Westing-house Electric Company filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

Sugimoto promised to protect jobs at the memory business, noting that the basic management there now will stay, and new workers will be hired to keep up with technological advances.

Competition from Samsung of South Korea is a major threat, he acknowledged, and not falling behind in technology remains critical.

"It is a fantastic company," Sugimoto said of Toshiba's memory business.

Additional investments are planned at several billion dollars a year, mainly through the cash generated from the operations, he added.

Bain's consortium includes Apple Inc, which Sugimoto said was a major customer as well as a partner, and Dell Technologies Capital as US investors. They will not acquire common stock or voting rights over the business.

Other participants in the consortium include SK Hynix of South Korea, which will invest •395 billion (US$3.5 billion).

Japanese companies will hold 50.1 per cent of the common stock in the consortium's special company, as Toshiba will be investing •350 billion (US$3.1 billion) and medical technology company Hoya Corp will invest •27 billion (US$239 million).

March closing deadline

The share transfer is to close by the end of March next year, according to Bain Capital and Toshiba.

Toshiba Memory will also receive another •600 billion (US$5.3 billion) in financing from banks.

Toshiba's massive red ink began with reactors it has been building in the US which are still unfinished, partly because of beefed-up safety regulations following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in northeastern Japan. Toshiba's earnings reports initially failed to get endorsements from its auditors, but the auditors signed off in August.

- AP