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Reuters reported Tuesday that Toshiba has now formally warned Western Digital not to interfere in the sale of its semiconductor unit. This follows recent reports that the US-based storage maker held talks with the iPhone maker regarding a potential acquisition of the Japanese giant's highly lucrative NAND flash chip business.
This is interesting because the two companies jointly operate Toshiba's main semiconductor plant. Western Digital accused Toshiba of violating their contract by transferring their joint venture's rights to the newly formed unit, which Toshiba denied.
The Japanese giant is now threatening legal action.
Western Digital's “campaign constitutes intentional interference with Toshiba's prospective economic advantage and current contracts,” reads Toshiba's letter.
“It is improper, and it must stop,” it added.
After Toshiba narrowed the list of bidders to Western Digital’s rivals, the US firm has formally complained to Toshiba because it felt the Japanese conglomerate should negotiate with it first.
Wester Digital even asked for exclusive negotiating rights.
Western Digital is not seen as a favored bidder for Toshiba's chip business because it put in a much lower offer than other suitors, sources with knowledge of the matter have said.
Toshiba is the world's second biggest NAND chip producer.
Among other suitors, technology giants such as Apple’s contract manufacturer Foxconn, flash memory chip maker SK Hynix and wireless chip maker Broadcom are said to be interested in investing into Toshiba's semiconductor business.
Toshiba has narrowed the list of bidders for its lucrative semiconductor business to a small group that includes Western Digital’s rivals such as Apple's favorite contract manufacturer Foxconn, memory chip maker SK Hynix and wireless chip maker Broadcom. Western Digital, however, feels that Toshiba should negotiate with it first.
In a new Bloomberg report Thursday, Western Digital has confirmed it's currently in talks with Japanese government-backed investment funds regarding a potential deal with the Japanese conglomerate. Mark Long, Western Digital's CEO, hinted that his company has held discussions with Apple as it tries to win a battle for Toshiba’s flash memory unit.
DigiTimes estimated this week that flash memory chips for smartphones will remain in high demand throughout 2017 because supply shortages are reportedly “worse than expected” as chip makers are currently transitioning from older 2D NAND to newer 3D NAND technology.
According to a report Friday in The Korea Herald newspaper, citing Mirae Asset Daewoo Securities analysts, Toshiba may spin off of its lucrative NAND flash unit and sell the stake to Western Digital, narrowing the technology and market share gap with its bigger rival Samsung Electronics.