Tokyo: China regulatory authorities have approved the $18 billion sale of Toshiba Corp.’s chip unit to a consortium led by US private equity firm Bain Capital, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday, without citing people with knowledge of the matter.

The antimonopoly review has been the biggest and last hurdle to the sale of the troubled Japanese conglomerate’s most prized asset.

A Toshiba spokeswoman said the company had not confirmed whether there had been any approval by Chinese regulators.

A representative for China’s State Administration for Market Regulation said he was not aware of the situation and did not comment further. A representative for Bain was not immediately available for comment.

The prolonged review has fuelled speculation that Toshiba might abandon the deal and pursue alternative plans such an IPO for the unit.

At its earnings briefing on Tuesday, Toshiba CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani said “we haven’t heard anything negative from Chinese regulators."