Microsoft touted as potential joint bidder for Toshiba’s chip making unit

Toshiba is in a hurry to divest itself of its NAND chip-making business, after needing to cover deep losses incurred by its bankrupt Westinghouse Electric Corp subsidiary.

The company is currently entertaining a number of bids, including from Western Digital Corp, Broadcom, Softbank and crucially a consortium led by Foxconn, which includes a who’s who of consumer tech companies.

Besides Foxconn, Apple is a confirmed member of the group, as is Dell, according to Reuters. Other companies thought to be included are U.S.-based Kingston Technology Co and Amazon, while Foxconn is also in discussions with Google, Microsoft and Cisco. Foxconn has characterised the consortium as being made up of customers of Toshiba and denied anti-trust issues.

Foxconn is unable to make a bid by itself, as the Japanese government are concerned about technology transfer to China. Foxconn has said they would contribute no more than 40% to the deal, with Apple taking more than 20%.

The deal is said to be worth more than $18 billion. Microsoft has been part of a number of consortiums in the past, primarily to purchase IP and patents. Presumably purchasing Toshiba would hep ensure a steady supply of SSD chips for their Surface products, and not being part of the deal would jeopardise their supply while owners are favoured.

Toshiba is due to announce their preferred bidder soon, with the board naming a winner on the 15th June.

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