The second round of offers in the sale of Toshiba Memory ended today, with Broadcom and KKR emerging as the leading bidders.
Inside sources said that as KKR & Co. includes state-backed sources it may prove to be the stronger offer, even though Broadcom offered a higher bid.
KKR & Co. is a New-York based investment group focused on buyouts of large, publicly traded companies. Technology companies in the KKR portfolio include Lyft, GoDaddy, and Magic Leap augmented reality.
For the Toshiba bid, KKR has partnered with the Development Bank of Japan and Innovation Network Corp. of Japan (INCJ), both state-run entities. Their participation in the bid may make KKR the leader as the acquisition will require final approval from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
The Ministry actually helped to form the partnership between KKR and the local funds. The government has also encouraged Western Digital and Toshiba to work out a compromise over disputes that have arisen over the spinoff and sale of Toshiba Memory.
Western Digital, which has worked alongside Toshiba in the memory business as a joint venture disputed the Japanese company’s plans to spin off and sell the memory business, and recently requested arbitration through the International Chamber of Commerce. Western Digital alleges that Toshiba violated the contract governing the two companies joint venture by attempting to sell that portion of their business without Western Digital’s consent. Toshiba has disputed these claims and proceeded with the sale, accepting offers from a number of sources.
Western Digital bid independently for the Toshiba Memory business in the first round, but the offer was too low. It has been rumored that Western Digital is considering joining the KKR group, but no definite plan has been announced as yet.
Other than KKR, Broadcom has emerged as a leader with a strong bid of $20 billion dollars, with financing from three Japanese banks who together have promised Broadcom $15 billion in loans. Private equity firm Silver Lake was brought into the deal to provide convertible debt.
Taiwan’s Hon Hai and South Korea Hynix have also expressed interest in purchasing Toshiba Memory, and returned bids as high as $27 billion, but it is believed that these groups would have a difficult time gaining approval from the Japanese government.