Toshiba Corp. (TOSYY) is open to talks with Western Digital Corp. (WDC) - Get Report over the sale of its chip unit, President Satoshi Tsunakawa said Friday, despite having named a Bain-led consortium as its preferred bidder.
Toshiba earlier this week chose a group led by Bain Capital Private Equity LP, but also supported by government-backed investment funds that has offered ¥2 trillion ($18 billion) for the world's second-largest producer of NAND flash memory chips.
The group includes Korea-based SK Hynix Inc., the Innovation Network of Japan and the Development Bank of Japan and appears to have won the bidding contest despite failing to meet the ¥2.2 trillion price proposed by a paring of U.S. chipmaker Broadcom Inc. (AVGO) and Silver Lake Private Equity Partners.
However, Tsunakawa said that although it is open to talks but does not expect the composition of the preferred bidder consortium, which includes Bain Capital and Japanese government investors, to change before June 28.
The company is aiming to reach a "mutually satisfactory definitive agreement with preferred bidder" by the date of its annual shareholder meeting on June 28.
Western Digital shares were indicated to open around 0.8% higher than their Thursday close, according to pre-market trading, suggesting a starting price of $91.00 per share.
Toshiba's much-needed sale could be slowed -- or possibly cancelled altogether -- as a result of legal action from Western Digital, a joint partner of Tosbhia's that has consistently said the auction process violates prior agreements between the two companies. Western Digital's SanDisk unit owns a 49% stake in Toshiba's main chip plant in Yokkaichi.
"Toshiba Corporation continues to ignore both SanDisk's consent rights and the dual-track legal process currently underway," WDC said in a statement late Tuesday in San Jose, Ca. "The language of the relevant agreements is clear: Toshiba Corporation has no right to transfer its JV interests to a third party without SanDisk's consent. SanDisk has not given its consent to any transaction, and will continue to protect its JV interests and preserve its rights through both its request for injunctive relief and the arbitration process."
Toshiba shares fell 8% to $16.00 early Friday afternoon.
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