Terry Gou, the founder and CEO of contract manufacturer Foxconn, has revealed that Apple, Dell and Kingston have joined its consortium to bid for Toshiba Memory Corp - and suggested that Amazon, Google-owner Alphabet, Microsoft and Cisco Systems could also join in.
It comes a week after Gou let slip that the company was putting together a broad-based consortium to support its bid.
However, Gou declined to reveal the size of the investment they might put in, and therefore the likely size of their respective stakes.
Foxconn, though, together with its Japanese electronics unit Sharp would not have a stake of more than 40 per cent in the consortium, Gou was keen to assert.
Foxconn has been keen to put together a broad coalition of technology companies to support its bid in order to allay Japanese government fears that leading edge semiconductor technology could be transferred via the Taiwanese company's close links with China, where the company manufactures much of its products.
The news from Foxconn just came one day after it was revealed that Western Digital has upped its bid for Toshiba Memory Corporation, coming closer to the valuation that Toshiba places on the highly prized unit.
The company increased its bid to ¥2 trillion ($18bn), around double its opening offer, although believed to be some way behind Foxconn's bid, which some reports have suggested is as high as $27bn . However, the sum isn't too far short of the ¥2.2 trillion ($20bn) believed to have been tabled by Broadcom.
That was according to Reuters, citing 'people familiar with the matter', which adds that Toshiba will select its preferred bidder on Thursday this week.
Broadcom has partnered with US private equity firm Silver Lake to help finance its bid, while Western Digital is already carrying a high debt load following its acquisition last year of SanDisk, which co-owned the NAND flash design and manufacturing unit with Toshiba at the centre of the bidding battle.
In addition to raising the funds to plug a financial black hole caused by the Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing of US nuclear power station builder Westinghouse, Toshiba is also under scrutiny from the Japanese government over its semiconductor sale, which doesn't want to see leading-edge technology transferred to China.
At the same time, though, Toshiba is concerned that an acquisition by Western Digital could run into anti-trust objections as the company is already the world's third-largest NAND flash producer behind Samsung and Toshiba itself. In a statement to Reuters, a Toshiba spokesperson said: "Our concerns about the prospects of success for a deal were not wiped out."
Furthermore, Western Digital's hardball tactics over the sale, invoking the terms of the joint-venture agreement between Toshiba and SanDisk in a bid to try and acquire the unit at cut price, has also reduced its credit with Toshiba's board.
Indeed, Reuters reports that Toshiba is expecting Western Digital to further raise its bid.
Western Digital's offer also includes a commitment to $25bn in capital spending on the Yokkaichi facility, including building two fabrication plants, according to Reuters' source.
It has also pledged $39bn for research and development and to expand the workforce there by five per cent a year for two years, said Reuters' source, in a bid to win official support for the acquisition in Japan.
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