[THE INVESTOR] SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won seems to be turning more cautious about SK hynix's bid for Toshiba’s chip business unit after his recent meeting with the Japanese conglomerate’s top brass.
“I have just visited Japan, and it is too early to say anything about the progress made or the whole picture,” he told reporters on April 26 upon his arrival from a three-day trip to Tokyo.
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Chey's comments reflected a subtle change of stance. Before his departure, Chey had proclaimed that "the situation will turn around when the main bidding process starts.”
It was the SK chief’s first overseas trip since his travel ban in relation to the ongoing probe into the presidential corruption scandal was recently lifted. Chey reportedly held several meetings with Japanese business leaders and investors to join forces in the bidding for Toshiba.
SK hynix, the nation’s No. 2 chipmaker, is one of the four potent bidders for the estimated 2 trillion yen (US$18.1 billion) deal, along with Taiwan’s Foxconn and US chipmakers Western Digital and Broadcom.
Despite its strong presence in DRAM chips, SK hynix has yet to secure a firm footing in NAND chips whose demand is expected to soar for long-term data storage for Internet of Things, big data and cloud services.
By attaining Toshiba's chip unit, SK hynix hopes to gain access to advanced manufacturing technology and eventually become the No. 2 player in the NAND market.
Equipped with an abundant cash flow, SK has been making all-out efforts to attract Japanese allies, including Development Bank of Japan, in order to soothe the local government’s concerns over tech leaks to Chinese or Korean chip rivals.
Bain Capital, the US private equity firm with a strong investment portfolio in Japan, has recently joined the SK-led consortium as the first financial investor.
Goldman Sachs that is working with Toshiba for the sale plans to hold the main binding bid in May and name the preferred bidder in June. Morgan Stanley is the financial advisor for SK hynix.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)