Reuters reports that Apple has joined a consortium of investors bidding to purchase Toshiba's NAND flash chip manufacturing business before the Japanese company's self-imposed sale deadline today. Toshiba's immense troubles in its Westinghouse nuclear power business have apparently cost it a fair chunk of change. In an effort to stay afloat, the company is selling off its profitable NAND manufacturing arm, which is the world's second largest manufacturer of flash chips. Apple is reportedly joining a bidding group that's led by Bain Capital and includes SK Hynix and a collection of Japanese banks.
According to Reuters, Bain Capital and SK Hynix will contribute approximately 1.1 trillion yen of a total bid of 2 trillion yen (about $18 billion). The Japanese banks will collectively add in another 600 billion yen. Apple's share is said to be 400 billion yen (about $3.6 billion), roughly 20% of the total bid. Toshiba would also keep a share of the business and contribute about 200 billion yen to the deal.
The report goes on to speculate that Apple's interest in the Japanese firm's flash chip business stems from fear of a scenario in which Western Digital (WD) and competitor Samsung are the only viable sources for storage chips for Apple's smartphones, tablets, and other products. Reuter also notes that Toshiba's flash manufacturing partner, WD, has been meddlesome in the auction process by using legal actions to try and control the sale. A consortium led by WD had offered up the largest previous bid, a 1.9 trillion yen offer made in partnership with private equity firm KKR & Co LP. Western Digital's group is said to be working to increase its bid to 2 trillion yen.