Western Digital is not at all happy about its positioning in Toshiba's ongoing decision to split off its chip unit prior to selling it, calling the split a breach of the two company's "joint venture agreements." The company has even gone so far as to send a letter to the firm as of April 9, telling Toshiba that it would not simply stand by while the latter company violates "its rights." In the meantime, the company wants Toshiba to rectify the situation by entering into exclusive talks to determine whether or not a deal can be reached between them. However, Western Digital is hardly the only party interested in buying and Toshiba has its own interests to look out for – and may or may not be under any kind of legal obligation. Source also say that no legal action has been threatened so far, which could indicate that either Western Digital has no case or that its lawyers just haven't had time to build one.
Toshiba's chip unit is the world's second-biggest manufacturer of NAND chips and, at the most recent valuation, is worth around $18 billion. According to sources within the company, who are currently not authorized to publicly address the matter and remain unnamed, There are currently four bidders that Toshiba appears to be interested in working with on a deal for the chip department, including Western Digital. The other three include Broadcom, SK Hynix, and Foxconn. Foxconn has the largest current bid at $27 billion but is not considered the most likely to make a deal because of possible distrust between Japanese regulatory authorities and the Taiwan-based company. SK Hynix was most recently reported to have placed a bid for 20 percent of the NAND business, with an offer between $1.8 and $2.6 billion.
Plans to sell all or part of the chip portion of Toshiba's business were first announced back in January, with Toshiba announcing the sale in a bid to make back money lost in its Westinghouse nuclear operations. Western Digital, for its part, has worked closely with Toshiba in the past. They even collaborated on Toshiba's main memory production facility and that puts the company in a tough position. Unfortunately, there is currently no way of knowing whether or not there is any contractual obligation for Toshiba to work with Western Digital first or whether there is anything at all to back up the latter company's objections.