By Taro Fuse
TOKYO (Reuters) - Toshiba Corp now favors a group led by Bain Capital LP and SK Hynix Inc as buyer for its prized semiconductor business, as it has failed to bridge key gaps with its business partner and rival bidder Western Digital Corp, two people briefed on the matter said on Tuesday.
The Japanese conglomerate, which needs to sell the chip business to plug a huge hole in its finances, had been trying to seal a deal by Wednesday with the Western Digital group but now hopes to reach agreement with the Bain group by next week, said the sources, who declined to be identified as the talks were private.
A Toshiba spokesman said the firm could not comment on details of the talks, which have already missed two deadlines by Toshiba's banks, which want a deal to pump $18 billion or more into the company to pull it out of negative shareholder equity and preventing it from being delisted.
A Western Digital spokeswoman also declined to comment. The Japanese unit of Bain Capital and SK Hynix could not be reached for comment outside business hours.
(Reporting by Taro Fuse; Additional reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Writing by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by William Mallard)