According to the Japanese newspaper, there are now 10 bidders looking to buy Toshiba's lucrative semiconductor operation, which accounts for 20 percent of the NAND market. Nikkei reported on Friday that U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake and U.S. chipmaker Broadcom offered Toshiba about 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) for the unit. Other bidders include frontrunner and world's largest NAND flash maker, Western Digital, with Apple suppliers Foxconn and TSMC having been named early on as potential suitors.
"The US tech firms -- Apple, Google and Amazon -- have become the next attractive bidders following Western Digital as Toshiba can have stable supply chains (for smartphones or data servers) from them," an industry source told The Korea Herald.On Thursday, Toshiba shareholders agreed to split off the NAND flash unit and sell it, in order to raise at least $9 billion to cover U.S. nuclear unit charges that threaten the conglomerate's future. Both Apple and Samsung are major clients of the unit, while Google and Amazon want to buy the NAND maker to supply their own data servers, rather than having to rely on chipmakers.
Prices on the flash memory market remain high, while Apple's interest in acquiring the unit has only increased as it continues to boost the storage capacity of its iPhones and iPads. Buying the unit would not only provide Apple with the ability to design and make its own flash memory, but it would also mean Samsung losing its main client. How much Apple's offer amounts to remains unknown, however.