Foxconn says Apple, Dell join its bid for Toshiba chip business

TAIPEI: Apple Inc and computing giant Dell Inc will join a Foxconn-led consortium bidding for Toshiba Corp’s highly prized chip unit, the CEO of the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer said on Monday.
Terry Gou, Foxconn’s founder and chief executive, said US-based Kingston Technology Co, a maker of memory products, would also be part of the bidding group, while Amazon.com Inc was close to joining.
The Taiwanese firm is also in discussions with Alphabet Inc’s Google, Microsoft Corp and Cisco Systems Inc about their participation in the bid, he said.
He declined to comment on the total size of the offer or say how much Apple and other US firms planned to invest.
“I can tell you Apple is in for sure,” Gou said in an interview, adding that its participation had been approved by the Chief Executive Tim Cook and Apple’s board of directors.
Toshiba is rushing to find a buyer for the world’s second-largest producer of NAND chips, which it values at $18 billion or more, to cover billions of dollars in cost overruns at its now-bankrupt US nuclear business Westinghouse Electric Corp.
Foxconn, however, has not been seen as a frontrunner for the unit due to its deep ties with China, where it manufactures much of its products. The Japanese government has said it will block any deal that would risk the transfer of key chip technology out of the country.
But Gou said that Foxconn-led consortium contained no Chinese capital and had the advantage of not inviting as much antitrust scrutiny as other suitors.
“The key is that we are all customers, we are users,” he said.
Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, and its Japanese unit Sharp Corp would have a combined stake of not more than 40 per cent, he added.
Representatives for Apple and the other US firms named by Gou could not be immediately reached for comment outside of regular business hours. Sharp declined to comment.
Gou’s revelations of the Foxconn-led bid come as uncertainty spikes over the make-up of the groups bidding in the hotly contest auction just days before Toshiba is due to announce a preferred bidder.
Western Digital Corp plans to raise its offer for Toshiba’s semiconductor unit, a person familiar with the matter said over the weekend, in a last-ditch effort to clinch a deal.
The US chipmaker is part of a consortium led by a Japanese government-backed fund and the group will present the new offer of 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) or more, the source said. — Reuters.