Japanese chipmaker Elpida Memory Inc is likely to post a net loss of 120 billion yen ($1.6 billion) for the year ending in March, public broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday, as it struggles with a tough market and imminent debt repayments.

Elpida, Japan's last remaining maker of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), is battling falling prices, a strong yen, and loss of market share to better-funded rivals in South Korea, including Samsung Electronics.

The chipmaker, which is reportedly seeking a tie-up with Micron Technology of the United States and Taiwan's Nanya Technology to shore up its balance sheet, is due to announce earnings for the April-December period at 3 p.m. (0600 GMT).

It is expected to post a 40 billion yen operating loss for the October-December quarter, the Nikkei business daily reported last week.

That compares with the average estimate of a 37.6 billion yen loss in a poll of six analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The firm faces a late March redemption of 15 billion yen in corporate bonds and an early April deadline for repayment of 77 billion yen in loans taken out under a government-backed rescue package, and its lenders have given it until this month to devise a turnaround plan, sources have said.

Elpida shares were down 0.3 percent at 323 yen in early morning trade, versus a 0.8 percent rise in the Nikkei average

(Reporting By Nobuhiro Kubo, Yoko Kubota; Editing by Joseph Radford and Michael Watson)