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Toshiba has finally decided to sell the plurality of its memory chip business to a group led by Bain Capital and SK Hynix for $17.7 billion. The group is getting some financing from Apple. The deal, which would need review from Japanese regulators, is targeted to close by March 31.

The Korea-based SK Hynix would receive a massive boost to run against leading competitor Samsung in the DRAM and NAND markets — SK Hynix would go from number 5 to number 2 — and those very chips may be cheaper to procure for the deal’s major backer, Apple, if only through competitive price pressures. Toshiba, which led innovation in the sector, would be able to offset having to carry on the bankruptcy of its nuclear business in the United States.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Bain consortium, which includes Seagate, will get 49.9 percent of the business, Toshiba will retain 40.2 percent and Japanese firm Hoya will hold the rest.

Left behind is Western Digital, which has spent the past 8 months proposing bids and is a partner with Toshiba running the unit. It contests that it has a right to arbitrate the decision in international court.

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