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Toshiba eyes spinning off flash-memory business

Kyodo

Toshiba Corp. is considering spinning off its key flash-memory business as part of efforts to make up for expected losses in its U.S. nuclear unit, a source familiar with the plan said Tuesday.

Toshiba’s advanced NAND-type flash memory, which is used for devices such as smartphones, has a leading share of the global market with one financial institution estimating its total value at ¥2 trillion (about $17.7 billion).

Outside investments worth hundreds of billions of yen would absorb the loss at the U.S. nuclear business. Toshiba will keep a more than 50 percent stake in the spun-off unit, the source said.

Western Digital Corp. of the United States has invested in the production of flash memory and Toshiba will maintain the alliance even after it spins off the business, the source said.

Toshiba, which is struggling to emerge from an accounting fraud scandal, said last month it is facing a multibillion-dollar write-down at its U.S. nuclear division Westinghouse Electric Co.

The company will make a final decision about the spinning off of its flash-memory business after determining the total loss as soon as the end of this month, according to the source.

It would have to be relegated to the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s second section from the first section should it slip into negative net worth for the fiscal year ending March 31, hampering Toshiba’s efforts to get back on its feet.

Toshiba has been focusing on nuclear power operations but has been struggling to win orders for new power plants both at home and abroad, particularly after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. The company booked an impairment loss of about ¥250 billion in the U.S. nuclear business in the last fiscal year.