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Foxconn seeks SoftBank's help in bid for Toshiba chip unit

Move seen as addressing Tokyo's fear of tech leaks to China and Taiwan

Toshiba President Satoshi Tsunakawa attends a press conference at the company's Tokyo headquarters on April 11. (Photo by Nozomu Ogawa)

TOKYO -- Taiwanese contract manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn, has asked for help from Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank Group in its bid to acquire Toshiba's memory business, The Nikkei has learned.

With SoftBank's backing, Foxconn is preparing to begin negotiations with Japanese banks and related companies over the deal.

There is also talk that Foxconn, a major iPhone assembler, may partner with Apple for the bid.   

The Taiwanese company is believed to have offered about 3 trillion yen ($27.4 billion) in the first round of bidding for the embattled Japanese conglomerate's chip unit, which concluded in late March. Complicating Foxconn's bid are concerns in Japan about a potential outflow of technology to Taiwan and China, home to many rival companies, as well as the chance that the technology could be adapted for military use.

Foxconn, which has multiple production bases in mainland China, hopes to quell those fears by winning the support of SoftBank, whose chairman, Masayoshi Son, is good friends with Terry Gou, chairman of the Taiwanese company.

When Foxconn acquired Japanese electronics powerhouse Sharp in spring 2016, Son introduced the Taiwanese company to Japanese banks. Son's assistance in the Toshiba bid is expected to come in a similar form -- through his assurances rather than money.

Because of concerns about technology leaks, the Japanese government is considering screening foreign bidders for the Toshiba unit under the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law. That could see Tokyo step in to advise against a sale to a particular bidder.

(Nikkei)

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