In the latest twist of a drawn-out bidding process for Toshiba's memory chip unit, a group of investors led by Bain Capital and South Korean chip maker SK Hynix has upped its offer to 2.4 trillion yen (about $22.3 billion), according to Reuters. The news comes less than a week after Toshiba's board failed to come to terms on a competing $17.4 billion offer from a group led by chipmaker Western Digital—a current investor in the Toshiba chip unit—KKR and other investors backed by the Japanese government.
Apple has offered to back three competing offers and threatened to stop buying Western Digital products it uses to make iPhones if Western Digital takes a controlling stake in the memory chip unit, citing pricing concerns, per Reuters. Apple has reportedly offered 50 billion yen (about $460 million) to help finance the Western Digital/KKR bid (which would see Western Digital gain a minority interest) and 335 billion yen (about $3.06 billion) to finance the Bain/SK Hynix bid.
Toshiba has no choice but to unload its chip unit after its Westinghouse nuclear power plant filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, causing billions in losses. The Japanese conglomerate's board is reportedly expected to meet Wednesday to consider all three offers (a group led by Apple supplier Foxconn has also offered $18.4 billion to buy the business).
Meanwhile, private equity firms have remained active in the electrical components sector,
with deal count peaking in 2014 at 31 transactions, according to the PitchBook Platform. This year, though, investors are on pace for the lowest deal total since at least 2010. Over that same span, no PE-backed buyout has come close to a $22.3 billion price tag. The largest LBO in the industry to date came when CVC Capital Partners bought French technology company Linxens for a reported €1.5 billion in 2015.