While rumors published this week in Japan’s Nikkei news suggested that Toshiba was considering selling a stake of its semiconductor business to WDC, an official company note confirmed a day later that the Japanese conglomerate was considering splitting its memory business into a separate company, with no decision yet. Spinning out Toshiba’s memory division (essentially its portion of the NAND flash joint venture with WDC) could unlock the value of this growth business, unencumbering it from the other elements of Toshiba that continue to be mired financial restructuring and write-offs.
Tying the Nikkei rumor to the official company announcement could point to WDC potentially purchasing a larger share of the NAND joint venture, which would provide WDC with greater control over expansion since WDC is responsible for the equipment CAPEX for Flash Ventures while Toshiba’s investment is for real estate and facilities. Less clear is what Toshiba will do with its client SSD business, which is part of the memory group in Japan, but is assigned to its storage groups in other geographies.
Despite all the rumors and speculation, the fact that Toshiba officially acknowledged some activity is ongoing likely means that the flash memory landscape will not maintain the status quo for long.