NHK has learned that IT giant Apple is moving to buy struggling Japanese conglomerate Toshiba's chip business.
The US firm is willing to spend billions of dollars to obtain a substantial stake. Its aim is to secure a stable supply of memory chips for its iPhones.
Toshiba officials are now in the process of narrowing down the bidders for their profitable semiconductor business, which they have spun off this month.
But Japanese government officials have expressed concerns about Toshiba selling critical technologies to overseas buyers.
Sources say that in response, Apple would have Toshiba keep some shares so the Japanese and US firms combined, will have a majority stake.
Apple executives are also considering teaming up with Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn. The Taiwanese maker is trying to acquire about 30 percent of the stake, and call on Japanese firms to join them.