SAN FRANCISCO — With its financial fortunes much improved and facing uncertainty over winning approval from Chinese antitrust regulators, there is speculation that Toshiba may abandon its $18 billion deal to sell its memory chip business to a consortium of investors, according to a report this week by the Nikkei Asian Review.

According to the report, which cites unnamed sources, Toshiba has now paid back nearly half of what it owes to a group of six lenders that has pushed hard for Toshiba to sell its prized memory chip unit, which was spun out as Toshiba Memory early last year. After a protracted bidding process, Toshiba agreed last September to sell Toshiba Memory to the consortium led by U.S. leveraged buyout firm Bain Capital for about $18 billion.

Chinese regulators are reportedly completing a third review of the proposed sale of Toshiba Memory, due to be completed May 28. According to the Nikkei report, it is unclear if the review will be completed by this deadline.

The Financial Times reported earlier this year that Toshiba was also weighing the idea of launching an initial public offering of Toshiba Memory if the deal with the Bain-led consortium continues to be held up. Some analysts and Toshiba investors were said to favor the IPO over the sale to the Bain consortium, according to the report.

Nikkei reported this week that the IPO remains a possibility and that it is being pushed by some within the Toshiba ranks. While Toshiba's creditors still favor the sale to the Bain-led consortium, these banks may hold less sway over Toshiba now that the company has repaid a significant percentage of what it owed. According to the report, Toshiba now owes the six banks a combined total of about $4.6 billion, down from $8.23 billion at the end of 2017.

— Dylan McGrath is the editor-in-chief of EE Times.