Apple Inc. might come to the rescue of Toshiba Corp. The maker of everything “i” including the iPhone, iPad and iPod is actively looking into options for helping the struggling company based in Japan, by investing in the semiconductor unit the company has, which was put on sale, according to those familiar with the situation.
Apple is looking at several options including partnering with Hon Hai Precision Industry in Taiwan to joining investors in Japan on a bid.
SoftBank Group is also considering becoming involved with the chip unit of Toshiba and might cooperate with Apple or Hon Hai, said sources.
Apple’s arrival might give Toshiba much better prospects of emerging out of the current fiasco it has with its Westinghouse nuclear unit that led to losses in the billions of dollars.
Toshiba must raise money from the sale of its semiconductor unit to cover some losses, but the bidding thus far had only resulted in problems. The company, based in Tokyo is wary of the bid by Hon Hai to take complete control of its chips unit by itself since it anticipates an objection by U.S. and Japanese governments,
A SoftBank spokesperson did not comment when asked, while representatives in Japan for Apple did not return calls requesting comments.
It has been a tough week already for Toshiba. The electronics conglomerate of 142 years warned it might not have the capacity to continue as a going concern due to its losses in the Westinghouse unit.
Then amidst signs progress was being made in the efforts by the company to sell the semiconductor unit, Western Digital, a joint venture partner notified Toshiba a sale of that type might violate its contract.
One positive did come out of this week as Toshiba posted profits for the third quarter in its memory business, giving assurance of some kind that it might sell it for a better price. However, many negatives exist that are tough to overcome, said analysts.
Memory chips made by Toshiba are used in personal computers, smartphones and data centers. That puts them in a big way in the middle of the shift from hard drives.
Its semiconductor unit, which posted this week a healthy growth in profit in its memory unit, has received proposed bids of between 2 trillion and 3 trillion yen, with SK Hynix from Korea, Broadcom Ltd and Hon Hai being the most aggressive three bidders.
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