* Chip unit put up for sale after Westinghouse charges
* Toshiba wants to raise at least $9 bln from chip unit sale
* Expects $18 bln valuation for unit
* Has said it is open to selling all of the business
(Recasts and writes through)
By Makiko Yamazaki
Chiba, JAPAN, March 30 Toshiba Corp
shareholders agreed to split off its prized NAND flash memory
unit on Thursday, paving the way for a sale to raise at least $9
billion to cover U.S. nuclear unit charges that threaten the
Coming a day after Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy, the
extraordinary general meeting saw angry shareholders vent at CEO
Satoshi Tsunakawa, with one noting that managers had only last
year described the chip and nuclear businesses as core units at
"How can something that was supposed to be a pillar turn
into a hole," said the shareholder, asking Tsunakawa about the
company's nuclear business.
"Toshiba has become a laughingstock around the world. You
have no clue what's going on," shouted another.
Toshiba, which expects to book an annual net loss of 1
trillion yen ($9 billion) for this business year on a writedown
at Westinghouse, has said it is selling most or even all of a
unit that is the world's second-biggest producer of NAND chips.
Initial bids for the sale closed on Wednesday.
A source with knowledge of the planned sale said that about
10 potential bidders are interested. Those suitors include
Western Digital Corp which operates a chip plant with
Toshiba in Japan, Micron Technology Inc, South Korean
chipmaker SK Hynix Inc and financial investors.
The government-backed Innovation Network Corporation of
Japan, and Development Bank of Japan are expected to enter later
bidding rounds as part of a consortium, sources have said,
declining to be identified as they were not authorised to speak
on the matter publicly.
A separate source said that Foxconn, the world's
largest contract electronics manufacturer, is expected to place
an offer which is likely to be the highest bid. Other sources
have said the Japanese government is likely to block a sale to
Foxconn due to its deep ties with China.
While the vote, which won the backing of more than
two-thirds of shareholders, and the bankruptcy filing by
Westinghouse are steps forward in Toshiba's struggle to stay in
business, it woes are far from over.
Toshiba, which bought Westinghouse in 2006 for $5.4 billion
now faces months of complex negotiations over the fate of its
U.S. nuclear business, a discussion that could embroil the U.S.
and Japanese governments.
The U.S. government has guaranteed loans of $8.3 billion
loan to help finance some the construction of four reactors in
the United States.
Putting American taxpayers on the hook for any losses
related to Westinghouse's failure would be an embarrassment for
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, particularly if the debacle
sparks criticism from President Donald Trump of Japanese
corporations in the United States.
During talks in Washington this month Japan's Trade Minister
Hiroshige Seko agreed to share information on developments with
his U.S. counterparts Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Commerce
Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Senior officials from both countries will get a chance to
discuss Toshiba further in April when Vice President Mike Pence
visit for bilateral economic talks. Ross will travel with Pence,
according to a Japanese government official with direct
knowledge of preparations.
($1 = 111.1300 yen)
(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Writing by Tim Kelly; Editing by