Western Digital in talks for stake in Toshiba chip unit after an IPO: Kyodo

FILE PHOTO: A Western Digital office building under construction is shown in Irvine, California, U.S., January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Western Digital Corp WDC.O is in talks to gain voting rights of just under 16 percent in Toshiba Corp's 6502.T memory chip unit on the assumption that it will be listed in the future, Kyodo news agency reported on Thursday.

Kyodo did not cite sources or say who the U.S. firm was in talks with.

Representatives for Western Digital and Toshiba declined to comment on discussions surrounding the $17 billion-$18 billion auction of the world’s No. 2 NAND producer.

Western Digital, which jointly invests in Toshiba’s key chip plant but which has been at loggerheads with its partner over the auction, has offered to drop out of a group bidding for the unit in return for a stronger position in their joint venture, sources told Reuters this week.

The size of any Western Digital stake in the memory chip unit when it goes public has been one of the sticking points in the discussions, people familiar with the matter have said.

Toshiba’s board, under pressure to clinch a deal soon, met on Wednesday to consider Western Digital’s new proposal but did not reach an agreement, people familiar with the matter said.

Toshiba is now aiming to reach a final agreement with the Western Digital-backed consortium by Sept. 13, two sources briefed on the talks said.

Sources declined to be identified as they were not authorized to talk to media on the matter.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Edwina Gibbs