Taiwan-headquartered Hon Hai Precision Industry, which acquired a controlling stake in Japan-based Sharp a year ago, is considering making a joint bid with the electronics maker to buy the memory business of troubled Toshiba, The Nikkei reported.
Hon Hai, better known as Foxconn, is believed to have approached both SoftBank and Apple to join it in the bidding.
Foxconn’s interest in Toshiba’s chip business apparently raised concerns about Japanese technology moving to China or Taiwan, which according to The Nikkei prompted the iPhone assembler to involve Sharp in the bidding to aid negotiations. Foxconn acquired a 66 per cent stake in Sharp for JPY389 billion ($3.5 billion) in March 2016.
The Taiwanese company is the largest contract electronics maker in the world and a major supplier for Apple and other smartphone makers. Analysts say Foxconn is looking to acquire Toshiba’s advanced memory business to expand its ties with Apple, which is by far its largest customer.
Foxconn reportedly made it through the first bidding round with a JPY3 trillion bid, with a second round to select the final shortlist expected to close in mid-May.
Bids were submitted by Broadcom, Silver Lake Partners, SK Hynix and Western Digital. Foxconn approached South Korea’s SK Hynix in early March about joining forces to bid for Toshiba’s chipmaking unit.
Struggling Toshiba, the world’s second-largest maker of NAND flash memory chips, plans to sell up to 100 per cent of its memory business as it deals with a more than $1 billion write-down from its nuclear power business in the US. Toshiba is a major supplier of memory chips to Apple.