Toshiba considering IPO for memory chip unit: FT

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Toshiba Corp (6502.T) is considering an IPO of its prized memory chip business if an agreed $18 billion sale of the unit to Bain Capital fails to gain antitrust approval by the end of March, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

The 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 U.S. 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 ($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 $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.

($1 = 110.7000 yen)

Reporting by Minami Funakoshi; Editing by Edwina Gibbs