A Japanese investment fund seeking to buy out Toshiba Corp. is asking a group of Japanese companies to join hands to clear the second round of bidding for the troubled conglomerate, people close to the matter said Sunday.

By teaming up with domestic companies, the Tokyo-based fund, Japan Industrial Partners, could gain an advantage over other bidders, including U.S. investment fund Bain Capital, in clearing government screening of offers for Toshiba, which is deemed crucial to Japan's national security because of its nuclear power and defense businesses.

Companies contacted by the fund include financial services firm Orix Corp., the sources said. Chubu Electric Power Co., a major power company serving areas of central Japan, is considering investing in a Toshiba buyout plan, a company official said Sunday without revealing whether it has been approached by the fund.