Toshiba May Miss Deadline for Chip Sale -- And Reap Billions

increasingly likely Toshiba Corp. will miss a March deadline for closing the sale of its memory chip business. That could turn out to be $4 billion worth of good news for the Japanese conglomerate.

The company agreed to sell the crown-jewel memory unit to a consortium led by Bain Capital to avoid delisting after billions of dollars of losses in its nuclear energy operations. But China has yet to grant approval for the deal and regulators are unlikely to sign off before the contract’s March 31 deadline, according to people familiar with the matter. That could give Toshiba, now on more stable footing, the opportunity to negotiate a better deal than the 2 trillion yen ($18.6 billion) sale price from September, which may undervalue the business by several billion dollars.

China has a vested interest in the semiconductor industry because it’s the world’s largest market for chips and it’s trying to foster domestic rivals to established players in the U.S. and South Korea. Officials at the Ministry of Commerce are concerned South Korea’s SK Hynix Inc. may end up with a significant stake in Toshiba’s chip business, consolidating power among the top players. The ministry could also impose conditions that would materially impact the value of the business, such as requiring Toshiba to freeze prices or separate its solid state disk and chip memory operations, the people said, asking not to be named because the details are private.

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