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Toshiba shares have taken a sharp tumble following reports the beleaguered conglomerate might receive a lower price for its chip business than previously expected.

A successful sale would help Toshiba shore up its balance sheet, which has taken a hit in the wake of an accounting scandal and the recent $6.3bn writedown on its US nuclear business.

Shares fell as much as 2 per cent after Bloomberg reported the company is this week sending letters seeking bids for a majority stake in or all of its memory chip business valuing it at ¥1.5bn ($13bn), citing unnamed sources.

This would be less than the ¥2tn sum analysts had estimated the business could be worth.

Earlier today, shares had been up as much as 2.5 per cent. So far this year they are down 27 per cent.

A week ago, shares jumped 22.3 per cent following reports Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company may boost its cooperation with Toshiba by investing in its chip unit. Apple and Microsoft are also reportedly interested in the business, while the likes of South Korea’s SK Hynix, Taiwan’s Foxconn and private equity fund Silver Lake are also thought to have been in the mix.

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