Toshiba has today announced it will spin off its core memory business and plans to sell a 20 percent stake in it before the end of the financial year. If that stake is bought by business partner Western Digital, currently the most likely buyer, Toshiba would find itself neck-and-neck with Samsung in terms of global market share.
Samsung is the world’s largest flash memory maker, with 36.6 percent of the market. Toshiba is in second place with 19.8 percent while Western Digital occupies third spot with 17.7 percent, according to DRAMeXchange. If these companies combined their NAND memory businesses, their combined market share would exceed Samsung’s.
But the deal is far from done-and-dusted. Toshiba is pushing to have the sale completed by March 31 so it can partially offset a $6 billion write-down due to costly issues with a newly-acquired nuclear power plant construction business in the U.S.. But an attempt by Western Digital’s to acquire the stake in Toshiba would likely be subject to anti-trust regulatory approval that might not be possible within Toshiba’s short timeframe.
Other possible investors include private equity firms, DRAM supplier SK Hynix and the government-supported Development Bank of Japan. Toshiba’s NAND business generates roughly 75 percent of the company’s overall profits, so splitting it off from the larger corporation will insulate it from any possible repercussions from the troubled nuclear business.
Now all we need is some chipset competition for Qualcomm.