Toshiba shareholders have today approved a proposal to split off the Japanese company's prized NAND flash memory unit, paving the way for a sale of a majority stake or even all of the business. 

In the wake of mounting losses at its US nuclear arm Westinghouse, which filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors yesterday, Toshiba has put up the business for auction.

It hopes to raise at least $9 billion and the company has said it believes the unit will be valued at around $18 billion. 

A source with knowledge of the planned sale said that about 10 potential bidders are interested. 

Those suitors include Western Digital, which operates a chip plant with Toshiba in Japan, Micron Technology, South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix and financial investors. 

At the shareholder meeting, which lasted for more than three hours, CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa and other executives faced angry questions after managers last year described the chip and nuclear businesses as core units at the conglomerate. 

Toshiba expects to book one of the biggest losses in Japanese corporate history with a net loss of 1 trillion yen ($9 billion) this year.