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Written by: Staff
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TOKYO, May 11: Japan's Toshiba Corp. said on Thursday it plans to spend $18 billion in capital outlays by the business year ending in March 2009, and will double its output capacity of NAND flash memory chips by then.

The world's fourth-largest microchip maker said it plans capital spending of 2.04 trillion yen by that year, up from about 1.13 trillion yen in the three business years that ended in March 2006.

Toshiba aims for sales of 7.8 trillion yen in the year to March 2009.

Toshiba also said it would build a fifth NAND flash memory plant, but no details have been decided.

Toshiba is the world's No.2 maker of the NAND-type chips, which can retain data after power is shut off and are used in Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod and other portable devices. The product is the company's cash cow.

South Korea's Samsung Electronics is the market leader.

Research firm iSuppli expects the global NAND market to expand 140 percent to $26.1 billion by 2009, but the strong prospects have lured such chip industry titans as Intel Corp. into the NAND business, and an increased supply caused prices to fall sharply in the January-March quarter.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported on Thursday Toshiba would spend about 300 billion yen of the planned investment to acquire a 51 percent stake in Westinghouse, the U.S. power plant arm of British Nuclear Fuels.

The company aims to pay for the investments with cash flows from its operations, it added.

In April, Toshiba and SanDisk Corp. said they would build a new 300-mm wafer fabrication plant in Japan for an undisclosed sum in anticipation of further growth in demand for music phones and other gadgets.

Strong flash memory operations helped Toshiba post a 70 percent rise in annual net profit last month, but it fell short of expectations in forecasting slower growth this year.

Shares in Toshiba closed down 0.4 percent at 750 yen. The Nikkei average was down 0.53 percent.

($1=111.19 Yen)

REUTERS

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