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Western Digital Seeks To Block Sale Of Toshiba's Chip Unit

Western Digital announced that it’s taking its fight with Toshiba to the International Court of Arbitration in San Francisco to stop the sale of its jointly operated memory-chip business without its consent.

For those of you not up to speed on the current situation, Western Digital acquired control of half of Toshiba's main semiconductor plant when it bought SanDisk almost a year ago today. Since then, Toshiba suffered significant financial hardship after its U.S. subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. As a result, Toshiba transferred ownership of the joint venture assets held with Western Digital into the newly formed Toshiba Memory with the intent of selling the unit to the highest bidder.

Western Digital's chief executive, Steve Milligan, said:

Toshiba's attempt to spin out its joint venture interests into an affiliate and then sell that affiliate is explicitly prohibited without SanDisk's consent. Seeking relief through mandatory arbitration was not our first choice in trying to resolve this matter. However, all of our other efforts to achieve a resolution to date have been unsuccessful, and so we believe legal action is now a necessary next step.

Toshiba CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa responded:

The majority stake sale of the semiconductor business poses no conflicts with the joint venture contract with Western Digital. Western Digital has no basis for stopping the procedure. We will communicate to the candidates the legitimacy of our argument to wipe out their concerns.

Given Toshiba’s current financial state, sale of the newly formed memory unit is extremely important to the company's financial recovery. In a statement, Toshiba's CEO stated that Western Digital’s complaint was groundless and that his company would push on with the sale, with a second round of bidding to commence on Friday. Just last week, Toshiba sent two letters to Western Digital asserting that the company had the right to sell its part of the semiconductor joint venture and that Toshiba would block Western Digital employees from its facilities and networks unless it complies by May 15.

A three-person panel in San Francisco will hear the arbitration under the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce. Toshiba has 30 days to respond to the request for arbitration.  

  • jcwbnimble
    So Toshiba own Westinghouse Electric. Bad move on their part. I can't speak for most people, but I do know that I would never buy a Westinghouse product, unless it was cheap toaster or other lower cost item. I've never trusted the brand and would be loathe to buy their products, especially if their is a similar product from a company I trust. I would much rather buy an LG or Samsung TV for a few bucks more than a cheaper Westinghouse. What made Toshiba think the Westinghouse name was worth buying?
    Reply
  • patrick47018
    19694219 said:
    So Toshiba own Westinghouse Electric. Bad move on their part. I can't speak for most people, but I do know that I would never buy a Westinghouse product, unless it was cheap toaster or other lower cost item. I've never trusted the brand and would be loathe to buy their products, especially if their is a similar product from a company I trust. I would much rather buy an LG or Samsung TV for a few bucks more than a cheaper Westinghouse. What made Toshiba think the Westinghouse name was worth buying?

    They bought Westinghouse for its nuclear energy technology. Not the cheap electronics branded under the Westinghouse name.
    Reply
  • littleleo
    And the Ironic thing is it is that Nuclear business segment that has done so bad it is sinking all of Toshiba. It would have been better if that had bought the cheap electronics unit instead.
    Reply
  • Spock_rhp
    Y'all are misremembering what happened at Toshiba. They first bought the Westinghouse nuclear reactor business. Later they bought a nuclear plant construction business and merged it into Westinghouse. Fukushima, rather suddenly, caused the FERC and NRC to significantly upgrade the designs, which caused costs in the power plant construction business to exceed the guaranteed price to utility customers.

    Imho, this illustrates the foolhardiness of signing fixed price contracts without also fixing the technology those contracts will be applied to. If the bargainers and attorneys had done their job correctly, what would have happened when NRC changed the requirements is that construction would have stopped while the clients considered the suddenly imposed higher costs .

    Toshiba didn't do its due diligence properly in the purchase of the power plant construction business. So, both it and the reactor business it was merged into (another oops) are now in bankruptcy and the utilities face the same exact situation -- do you proceed and pay much more or stop and abandon all work done to date?

    Reply
  • bloodroses
    19694219 said:
    So Toshiba own Westinghouse Electric. Bad move on their part. I can't speak for most people, but I do know that I would never buy a Westinghouse product, unless it was cheap toaster or other lower cost item. I've never trusted the brand and would be loathe to buy their products, especially if their is a similar product from a company I trust. I would much rather buy an LG or Samsung TV for a few bucks more than a cheaper Westinghouse. What made Toshiba think the Westinghouse name was worth buying?

    Honestly I've had bad luck with LG and Samsung TVs. My wife did get a cheap Westinghouse one time, surprising it still works. I wouldn't call it high quality though... lol

    Personally, I'd rather go with something not South Korea based as the quality appears better such as Sony, Panasonic, Vizio, Sharp.
    Reply
  • RainCaster
    It looks like WDC wants to own the whole business without paying market value for it. OK, that's a nice dream but the real world doesn't work that way. It is my understanding that arbitration can be a very long process, which is not in Toshiba's best interest. They can refuse arbitration, and continue on with the sale. Timing is improved, as is the sale process. FoxConn has offered more than twice as much money as WDC, and that money is what the shareholders want.
    Reply
  • eldakka
    "As a result, Toshiba transferred ownership of the joint venture assets held with _Western Digital_ into the newly formed Toshiba Memory"

    That is incorrect, the joint venture assets are owned by Toshiba and Sandisk.

    WDC owns Sandisk, but Sandisk still exists as an operating entity. As the quotes from WDC later in the article show, WDC itself still says "Sandisk", e.g.:
    Western Digital's chief executive, Steve Milligan, said:
    "Toshiba's attempt to spin out its joint venture interests into an affiliate and then sell that affiliate is explicitly prohibited without _SanDisk's_ consent."
    Reply