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Toshiba eyes public listing for memory chip unit

Toshiba eyes public listing for memory chip unit

Follows plans by Bain Capital to list Toshiba's chip unit on the Tokyo Stock Exchange

Toshiba is considering publicly listing its prized memory chip business if an agreed US$18 billion sale of the unit to Bain Capital fails to gain antitrust approval by the end of March, the Financial Times (FT) has reported.

The initial public offering (IPO) is one of various contingency plans being looked at by Toshiba's top executives, and some analysts and Toshiba shareholders favor it over the existing deal, the FT said.

Toshiba agreed last September to sell Toshiba Memory, the world's second-biggest producer of NAND chips, to a consortium led by Bain Capital LP to cover billions of dollars in liabilities arising from now bankrupt US nuclear power unit, Westinghouse.

But the Japanese conglomerate no longer faces the pressure it once did to complete a sale, after raising 600 billion yen (US$5.4 billion) with a new share issue to overseas funds late last year, which with tax write-offs gives it sufficient funds to cover its liabilities.

Hong Kong-based activist investor, Argyle Street Management Ltd, a hedge fund with US$1.2 billion under management, has voiced opposition to the sale, saying it was no longer necessary.

A Toshiba spokeswoman said there had been no change to fact that the company was working towards completing the sale of the chip unit.

News of a potential IPO for the chip unit comes around three months after Bain Capital also flagged plans to list Toshiba Corp's chip unit on the Tokyo Stock Exchange within three years of closing its proposed acquisition of the business.

(Reporting by Minami Funakoshi; Editing by Edwina Gibbs; Additional reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Junko Fujita; Writing by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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