Toshiba Memory sees 'good chance' of M&A in push for data center business

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Toshiba Memory said there was a “good chance” of acquisitions as it pushes to increase its share of the market for advanced storage products used in data centers.

FILE PHOTO: Toshiba's flash memory factory is pictured during a media tour in Yokkaichi, western Japan September 9, 2014. REUTERS/Reiji Murai/File Photo

Toshiba Memory is the world's No.2 maker of NAND flash memory chips after Samsung Electronics 005930.KS, but ranks third after Intel INTC.O in flash-based solid state drives typically used in data centers, according to researcher IHS.

“One of the critical areas where we are focused on is the cloud service providers, data center players,” Toshiba Memory Chairman Stacy Smith told Reuters. “We are very focused on growing our share in that space.”

"There is a good chance that Toshiba Memory will embark on M&A over time," added Smith, former Intel Corp INTC.O financial chief who joined the Japanese firm in October.

Toshiba Memory’s previous focus on smartphones and other consumer gadgets has hurt its profits, analysts say.

It posted an operating loss of 28.4 billion yen ($263 million) for January-March, versus a 54 billion yen profit in the prior quarter, on slow smartphone sales and chip oversupply.

The company is set to change its name to Kioxia - a combination of “kioku”, the Japanese word for memory, and “axia”, Greek for value - from Oct 1.

Toshiba Memory was spun off by Toshiba Corp 6502.T last year in the wake of a crisis due to cost overruns at the latter's U.S. nuclear power subsidiary.

U.S. buyout firm Bain Capital, which bought Toshiba Memory for $18 billion, was looking to list the business in what would have been among Japan’s biggest flotations this year, but delayed it by about two months to November, a source has said.

Depending on market conditions, the IPO could be postponed to 2020, the source added.

“We’re going to be ready when the market conditions are right,” Smith said, declining to comment on the timing.

He said the memory market would bottom out in the second half of 2019 after being dogged by oversupply for more than a year, echoing views from other industry experts.

In the NAND flash market, analysts expect prices to draw support from a recent output disruption at a Toshiba Memory plant. While operations have resumed, shipments will take several weeks to recover.

“The good news is we had a reasonable amount of inventories that we were able to use to kind of buffer the impact on our customers,” Smith said.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Mark Potter