Scrambling to Survive, Once-Great Toshiba Floats Sale of Chip Business
Tech conglomerate Toshiba is considering selling a majority stake in its memory chip business.
The company was scheduled to deliver third-quarter earnings on Tuesday, but was granted an extension as it examines problems in its nuclear division. Now, it’s frantically trying to drum up cash to stay afloat as it races toward a March 27 deadline to avoid a delisting.
Chief Executive Satoshi Tsunakawa backtracked on his previous assertion that Toshiba would only sell around 20 percent of its chip business. But with the $6.3 billion writedown it’s currently staggering under in its nuclear business, Tsunakawa may be running out of options.
Toshiba is the world’s second largest NAND flash memory chip producer after Samsung. Bloomberg Intelligence estimates that the unit could be worth up to $14 billion. The markets showed disapproval of the asset-stripping plan, with stock prices tumbling to 10-month lows.
Without its chips business, Toshiba will have few avenues to grow profits and re-establish market dominance in any sector, especially if it follows through on rumors that it will scale back its nuclear business by eliminating plant construction and only focusing on producing equipment and engineering services. Tsunakawa said it might even sell Westinghouse Electric Co.
Toshiba is forecasting a whopping 500 billion ($4.38 billion) yen loss for the nine months through Dec. 31, and the company said shareholder equity will drop to negative 150 billion yen ($1.31 billion).
The company reversed its forecast for the fiscal year ending March 31 from a 145 billion yen ($1.27 billion) profit to a 390 billion yen ($3.42 billion) loss.
Less than a decade ago, Toshiba was worth almost 5 trillion yen.