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Apple, Amazon, Google Eye Toshiba’s Chip Unit | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The logo of Toshiba is seen as shareholders arrive at Toshiba’s extraordinary shareholders meeting in Chiba, Japan March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Google have joined a list of potential buyers eyeing Toshiba’s lucrative memory chip business, vying with others for the Japanese firm’s prized semiconductor operation, the Yomiuri Shimbun daily reported on Saturday.

Toshiba has reportedly completed the first round of bidding for its prized memory chip business, seen as key for the cash-strapped company to turn itself around.

About 10 foreign companies and funds tendered bids, the mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun said, quoting unnamed sources.

Suitors include Western Digital Corp (WDC.O), which operates a chip plant with Toshiba in Japan, Micron Technology Inc (MU.O), South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix Inc (000660.KS) and financial investors.

Toshiba shareholders on Thursday agreed to split off its NAND flash memory business, paving the way for a sale to raise at least $9 billion to cover US nuclear unit charges that threaten the conglomerate’s future.

The Yomiuri newspaper said bidding prices from Apple, Amazon or Google, owned by Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), were not known.

The Nikkei business daily reported on Friday that US private equity firm Silver Lake Partners SILAK.UL and US chipmaker Broadcom Ltd (AVGO.O) have offered Toshiba about 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) for the unit.

Toshiba is expected to negotiate with individual candidates this month.

Any foreign buyer would need to pass a Japanese government review, given concerns about security around systems already using Toshiba’s memory chips, according to local media.

Toshiba is the world’s number two supplier of memory chips for smartphones and computers, behind South Korea’s Samsung, and the business accounted for about a quarter of its 5.67 trillion yen in revenue last fiscal year.

($1 = 111.3800 yen)