• Kyodo

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Toshiba Memory Corp., the world’s second-largest maker of NAND flash memory chips, plans to move up an initial public offering and go public as soon as next autumn, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.

The consortium led by U.S. private equity fund Bain Capital, which bought Toshiba Corp.’s prized semiconductor unit for ¥2 trillion ($17.8 billion) in June, had said in October last year that it aimed to list the unit on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in about three years.

The consortium, whose members include South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix Inc. and Japanese optical glass-maker Hoya Corp., has decided to speed up the schedule to recoup the money spent to acquire Toshiba Memory, and to raise funds to strengthen the chip’s competitiveness against industry leader Samsung Electronics Co., they said.

Toshiba Memory will also change its name, deleting “Toshiba,” the sources said. That will signify its full-fledged independence from the Japanese technology conglomerate, which sold the unit to bolster its financial standing following huge losses from now-bankrupt U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric Co.

Demand for NAND flash memory is expected to grow further with the spread of “internet of things” networks, which connect various devices via the internet.

Toshiba Memory is currently building a new plant in Kitakami in Iwate Prefecture, which will be its second production base after its Yokkaichi plant in Mie Prefecture.

As the company is short of engineers, it is recruiting employees from Toshiba who are involved in the semiconductor business or in research and development, the sources said.

Bain holds 49.9 percent of the voting rights in Toshiba Memory, while Toshiba has 40.2 percent and Hoya 9.9 percent. Hynix and Apple Inc. also own stakes without voting rights.

Toshiba Memory had been the main profit engine for Toshiba, generating about 90 percent of its operating profit, or ¥479.1 billion, in the past business year through March.

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