SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won left for a business trip to Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday to make a final pitch for the consortium SK Hynix is involved in an $18 billion race to acquire the world’s second largest flash memory business from Toshiba Corp.
Chey accompanied by SK Telecom CEO Park Jung-ho responsible for managing the acquisition project will meet with top Toshiba executives. Separately on Wednesday, SK Hynix board approved the investment in Toshiba memory business.
Shares of SK Hynix closed Thursday up 0.97 percent at 83,200 won.
Toshiba’s board last week approved to sell its lucrative flash memory chip unit to a group including Bain Capital of the United States, state-backed Japanese companies, and Korean chipmaking competitor SK Hynix.
Toshiba is under pressure from its lenders to finalize the deal this month so that it can complete the sale by the end of the financial year in March 2018 to avoid being delisted from the Tokyo exchange due to its yawning losses from nuclear reactor business in the U.S. But the final negotiations are being delayed as Western Digital, its U.S. joint-venture partner in chip business, separately bid for the Toshiba unit and challenges it in courts to block the sale to a third party.
To avoid antitrust issues, SK Hynix will chip in 395 billion yen in total, of which 129 billion yen would be in the form of bonds with option to be converted into stock tantamount to bring the chipmaker a 15 percent stake in the new memory business entity. The rest would go to a fund Bain creates to acquire the Toshiba memory business.
SK Hynix has been eager in beefing up its capabilities in nonvolatile memory, which it lags relatively against its mainstay volatile dynamic random access memory (DRAM), an area where it is the world’s second largest. NAND chips that do not require power to store memory are quickly replacing DRAM and in high demand due to widening applications for mobile, connected, and smart technologies. As of the first quarter, SK Hynix ranked fourth in the NAND flash market after Samsung Electronics which is a dominant 38.3 percent leader, Toshiba, and Western Digital.
SK Hynix also could reap returns from the investment should the corporate value of the NAND memory business becomes bigger.
Japanese entities including state-sponsored funds will own a 50.1 percent in the new entity to ensure the memory business stays in Japan, while Bain Capital and SK Hynix command the remaining 49.9 percent.
By Hwang Hyung-gyu and Lee Dong-in
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