In its efforts to get funds needed to avoid getting delisted, Toshiba announced on Thursday that it had inked an agreement to sell its chip division to a Bain Capital-led consortium at a price of $18 billion. A news conference scheduled to be held in Tokyo, Japan, to provide more information on the deal was, however, canceled. Bain Capital attributed the cancellation of the meeting to disagreements among members of the consortium. This underscored fears that the consortium consisting of eight members was too large to function effectively.
A deal to sell Toshiba’s chip unit, which is the second largest manufacturer of NAND chips in the world, was agreed to last week following an auction process. Signing of the agreement was however postponed since one of the consortium members, Apple Inc, demanded that new terms be negotiated with regards to the supply of chips.
Too many cooks
“This consortium has so many members that it is going to be hard to come to consensus and agree on who’s going to take the initiative,” Ace Research Institute’s Hideki Yasuda, said.
Despite the fact that the cancellation of the news conference took place at the last minute, Yuji Sugimoto, Bain Capital’s chief in Japan, said that the wrangles over the briefing did not have a bearing on the terms of the contract. Sugimoto did not however reveal the member or members behind the last-minute cancelation of the news conference.
Besides the wrangles there are also legal challenges to overcome before the deal can be concluded. With regulatory reviews typically consuming at least half a year, the deal might not be concluded before March when Japan’s financial year ends.
Toshiba is already struggling with liabilities occasioned by Westinghouse, its nuclear unit which is now bankrupt, and this risk see the Japanese conglomerate close another year with a negative networth. This will increase the pressure on Japan’s Tokyo Stock Exchange which could see it delisting Toshiba.
Toshiba’s partner in the chip unit, Western Digital, whose bid was rejected, is also posing a legal challenge as it has sought an injunction to have any deal not bearing its consent blocked. Besides Apple other members of the Bain Capital-led consortium include Seagate Technology, Dell Inc, SK Hynix and Kingston Technology.