Apple may team up with Foxconn to bid for Toshiba's chip business

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TOKYO: Apple is considering teaming up with supplier Foxconn to bid for Toshiba Corp's semiconductor business, public broadcaster NHK said - the latest twist in the sale of the world's second-biggest flash memory chipmaker.

The US tech giant is considering investing at least several billion dollars to take a stake of more than 20 per cent in a plan that would have Toshiba maintain a partial holding to keep the business under US and Japanese control, NHK reported.

The proposal is aimed at allaying the Japanese government's concerns over any transfer of sensitive technology to investors it deems a risk to national security, it said.

Foxconn, which participated in the first round of the auction, has been considered such a risk due to its deep ties with China.

The bulk of Apple's iPhones are manufactured at Foxconn's huge manufacturing base there.

NHK said Apple wants the Taiwan firm to own a stake of around 30 per cent of Toshiba's chip business.

An investment by Apple would be its first direct stake in a major global memory chipmaker as it seeks to secure a stable supply of key components.

Samsung is the biggest maker of flash memory chips, followed by Toshiba, SK Hynix and US-based Micron Technology Inc.

Toshiba has narrowed down the field of bidders for its chip unit to four suitors, sources have said.

They are US chipmaker Broadcom, partnered with private equity firm Silver Lake Partners LP; South Korea's SK Hynix; Foxconn and Western Digital.- REUTERS

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