Market relieved upon China‘s approval of Toshiba deal

By Song Su-hyun

Industry forecasts technological partnership between SK hynix and Toshiba to be made

  • Published : May 18, 2018 - 17:34
  • Updated : May 18, 2018 - 17:34
A sense of relief came among market watchers and investors upon the long-awaited approval by China’s antitrust watchdog on Thursday for the sale of Toshiba’s memory business to a global consortium including the Korean chipmaker SK hynix.

Industry watchers said the finalization of the deal is expected to enhance SK hynix’s position in the global memory market through potential technological partnerships with Toshiba.

“We were informed by the consortium last night of the completion of the antitrust deliberation in China, and Toshiba made an announcement that the deal is approved,” a statement from SK hynix said. The Korean chipmaker is a member of the multinational consortium led by US-based private equity Bain Capital and some Japanese state-run financiers.

SK hynix, meanwhile, maintained a cautious approach, once again underlined that SK hynix was one of the investors, not the main buyer.


“The company has invested in the acquisition deal as a consortium member, and it is not right to say SK hynix is acquiring the Toshiba unit,” it said.

In September, due to financial difficulties, Toshiba decided to sell its memory unit to the Korea-US-Japan consortium for $17.6 billion, and Korea’s SK hynix announced it would inject $3.5 billion into the deal.

After the announcement, the deal was approved by seven economies that have sizeable semiconductor industries: Korea, the US, Japan, European Union, Brazil, the Philippines and Taiwan.

The Chinese authorities took about five months to approve the deal, raising various speculations about its reluctance to accept the deal considering President Xi Jinping’s plan to develop its semiconductor industry through massive investments.

As the deal was stuck in China for several months, some media outlets reported Toshiba’s shareholders were moving to withdraw the sale plan earlier this month.

However, Toshiba management had expressed firm determination to proceed with the deal with an aim to complete it by the end of June.

“All conditions for the closing of the transaction are now satisfied,” Toshiba said in a statement. “The parties will now take necessary procedures to close the transaction, which is currently expected to occur on June 1.”

The Toshiba unit sold to the consortium has proprietary technologies to produce NAND flash memory chips.

Tapping into the Japanese firm’s NAND flash technologies was one of primary reasons for SK hynix to bet on the deal.

Although the Korean chipmaker is restricted to key technological information for 10 years and its stake ownership is limited to 15 percent, industry officials predict SK hynix could expect potential partnership with Toshiba and gain easier access to NAND technologies in the future.

According to market researcher IHS Markit as of the fourth quarter of last year, Toshiba was the world’s second-largest NAND flash provider with a 16.2 percent share after Samsung Electronics, while SK hynix was the fourth player with 11.6 percent.

By Song Su-hyun (