Apple mulls throwing its weight behind £21.5bn bid for Toshiba chip business

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Apple may wade into the bidding war for Toshiba’s memory chip business by teaming up with its Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn to secure a slice of the world’s second-biggest flash memory chipmaker.

The tech giant is mulling a deal to join the growing number of suitors interested in the urgent firesale of Toshiba’s highly prized business as it struggles to plug the £9bn hole in its balance after the floundering and collapse of its US nuclear business Westinghouse.

Apple is considering paying several billion dollars to take a more than 20 per cent control in the company to aide Foxconn’s bid by keeping the chip business under partial US control, according to the Japanese national state broadcaster.

Foxconn, Hon Hai Precision Industry, reportedly made a $27bn play for the company earlier this week but faced a backlash from critics who said its close ties to China, where the majority of its operations are based, could pose regulatory approval delays which Toshiba can ill-afford.

Foxconn has declined to comment to media reports and Apple was not available.

Apple’s support for the FoxConn bid would hand a key advantage to the company over a rival bid from a fellow Apple supplier Broadcom. The US-based chipmaker is understood to have made a far lower $18bn bid for the company, but offers the reassurance of US owner.

Meanwhile, Toshiba’s joint-venture partner Western Digital has also made a bid for the business and warned that the sale would be a breach of the pair’s contract unless it is offered exclusive negotiation rights ahead of rival bids.

South Korea’s SK Hynix, another Apple memory supplier, is also understood to have submitted a bid but is said to be trying to recruit Japanese investors in order to clear political obstacles.

Toshiba, which makes everything from flash memory drives to laptops and semiconductors, admitted it is considering selling some or all of UK nuclear developer NuGeneration to keep itself afloat.

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