• Bloomberg


Apple Inc. may be coming to Toshiba Corp.’s rescue.

The iPhone-maker is actively looking at options for helping the troubled Japanese company by investing in its semiconductor unit, which has been put up for sale, according to people familiar with the matter.

Apple is considering a range of options from partnering with Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. to joining with Japanese investors on a bid, said the people, asking not to be named because the matter is private. SoftBank Group Corp. is considering getting involved in the Toshiba chip unit bidding and may cooperate with Hon Hai or Apple, the people said.

Apple’s entry into the auction may give Toshiba better prospects for emerging from a fiasco in its Westinghouse nuclear business that has led to billions of dollars in losses. Toshiba needs to raise money from the semiconductor sale to plug the hole in its balance sheet, but the bidding process so far has been problematic. The Tokyo-based company is wary of Hon Hai’s bid to take full control of the chips unit on its own because it anticipates Japanese and U.S. governments would object.

Mitsuhiro Kurano, a spokesman for SoftBank, declined to comment. Representatives for Apple in Japan didn’t respond to calls for comment.

It has already been a hectic week for Toshiba. First, the 142-year-old electronics conglomerate warned it may not be able to continue as a going concern because of the Westinghouse losses.

Then, amid signs of progress in the company’s efforts to sell its semiconductor unit, joint-venture partner Western Digital Corp. notified Toshiba such a sale may violate their contract.

“How do you even judge what happened this week for Toshiba?” said Kazunori Ito, an analyst at Morningstar Investment Services. “One positive is that the company showed third-quarter profits in the memory business, giving some assurance it may sell it for a good price. But there are so many negatives, I don’t even know where to begin.”

Toshiba’s memory chips are used in smartphones, personal computers and data centers, putting them at the heart of a shift away from hard drives.

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