SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won crossed the Korean Strait on April 24 to acquire Toshiba’s memory business division which will determine the fate of the group.
Chey flew to Japan as his first overseas trip since his four-month travel ban was lifted. He is expected to meet executives of Toshiba to discuss SK Hynix Inc.’s intention to acquire the Japanese firm’s chip business.
Some sources said that Chey may consider meeting officials from U.S. Western Digital, which has been requesting Toshiba for exclusive rights to a takeover negotiation.
An official from SK said, “Chairman Chey headed for Japan to help the group’s efforts to take over Toshiba’s memory division, and the visit will be definitely the major watershed of SK Hynix’s chance to acquire the unit.” It is Chey’s first overseas trip in five months after he traveled Middle Eastern countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in November last year.
Chey was said to be reported the current progress for the acquisition after arriving Japan and immediately meet Toshiba’s executives. Japanese media reported that Chey will meet Toshiba’s management and actively explain SK Group’s vision for semiconductor business. Nihon Geizai Shimbun reported, "SK Group Chairman is visiting Toshiba for the first time after calling for the first bid last month. Chey will explain his plan to continuously maintain the investment and employment at the Yokkaichi plant in Mie Prefecture, which is the main base of Toshiba’s semiconductor business, and ask for understanding. Others said that Chey will meet not only Toshiba’s executives but also Japanese politicians and business partners who has social connection with him.
The preliminary bid to take over Toshiba's NAND memory chip business recently completed and its potential buyers have narrowed to four – SK Hynix, U.S. chip maker Western Digital, U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake Partners and Taiwan’s Hon Hai. Toshiba will receive the second bidding next month and pick the preferred bidder by the end of June.
Currently, the Japanese industry thinks that the association of a U.S. company and Japanese public-private investment fund is highly likely to take over Toshiba’s chip business. This is why some say that Chey will join forces with Western Digital when he cannot acquire the unit by himself.
An official from the industry said, “Chairman Chey have meetings with officials at Japanese and American investment firms in order to stably raise the takeover price which exceeds 2 trillion yen (US$18.19 billion or 20.65 trillion won).”