Tosh will flog off most of its chip business

Troubled Toshiba will raise $8.8 billion by selling most of its flash memory chip business, seeking to create a buffer for any fresh financial problems.

Tosh has been talking about flogging off part of its successful Flash memory business for a while because that would sort its problems out a bit quicker.

But it decided to abandon that cunning plan to sell just 19.9 percent at the instigation of its main creditor banks which are worried about potential writedowns that may come on top of $6.3 billion hit to its US nuclear unit.

Prioritising its need to raise capital, Toshiba said last week it is now prepared to sell a majority stake or even all its prized chip business.

Toshiba has not decided on the size of the stake to be sold, preferring to focus on the amount that can be raised although it would like to retain a one-third holding that would give it a degree of control over the business, sources in the outfit have leaked.

The sale is the best and the only way Toshiba can raise a large amount of funds and wipe out concerns about its credit risk. The sale should be completed by the end of March next year.

It wants to restart the sale process as soon as possible and may sell to multiple buyers rather than one bidder with interest already received from investment funds, other chipmakers and client companies, he also said.

Other potential financial risks that Toshiba may have to deal with include Landis+Gyr AG, an unlisted German meter maker it acquired in 2011 and whose earnings have not matched expectations.

When Toshiba was offering 19.9 percent of its chip unit, it received offers ranging from $1.8 billion to $3.5 billion.

Western Digital is still interested in buying a stake in Toshiba, two sources said without specifying how big a holding it would be prepared to buy. The California-based firm and Toshiba jointly operate a NAND flash memory plant in Japan.