Apple and Foxconn may buy a stake in Toshiba's chip business

The logo of Toshiba Corp is seen behind cherry blossoms at the company's headquarters in Tokyo Japan

The logo of Toshiba Corp is seen behind cherry blossoms at the company's headquarters in Tokyo Japan

According to a report today by NHK, Japan's public broadcasting organization, Apple is considering becoming one of those investors, and the iPhone maker is reportedly seeking a more than 20 percent stake in Toshiba's memory segment.

Given concerns from Japanese government officials about Toshiba selling "critical technologies" to overseas buyers, Apple would reportedly have Toshiba keep some shares so that the company retains partial Japanese ownership. The bulk of Apple's iPhones are made at Foxconn's extensive manufacturing base there.

Toshiba is the world's second biggest flash memory chipmaker but has put its chips business up for sale to make up for a write down of $6.5bn in its United States nuclear equipment operations. Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, declined to comment.

An investment with Foxconn would mark Apple's first direct stake in a significant memory chip company, Reuters said, and would help solidify a key element of the supply chain that has become a hallmark for the iPhone vendor. Toshiba is the world's second-biggest memory chip maker and this business in on sale by the company. It is also demanding exclusive negotiating rights. Those costs have plunged the Japanese conglomerate into crisis, prompting it even to warn that it may not be able to continue as a going concern.

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Toshiba has found itself in a tough spot financially recently, with the company recently admitting that its future is very much in doubt following its most recent financial report.

Western Digital's objection has yet to be resolved, but Toshiba has denied a claim by Bloomberg that the sale had been put on hold.

Toshiba needs to raise money from the semiconductor sale to plug the hole in its balance sheet, but the bidding process so far has been rocky. Foxconn would obviously also get a stake, while Toshiba would still maintain a small part of the business.

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