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Oct 22 2015

Western Digital to Acquire SanDisk

Following the surprise merger of Dell and EMC, two other industry heavyweights decided to consolidate their businesses under one umbrella in hopes of improving their ability to meet the demands of a "rapidly evolving storage market."

The announcement was made on Wednesday (October 21) and places particular emphasis on the benefits of a union, namely the chance to provide a bigger, more varied portfolio of storage products and solutions. According to the companies' joint press release, Western Digital (WD) is to acquire the outstanding shares of SanDisk for a total of US-$19 billion in cash and stock – exactly how much of both depends on whether WD can close another deal with Chinese investor Unisplendour prior to the takeover or not. The announcement came on the heels of a somewhat mixed SanDisk earnings report for Q3/2015.

Further according to the companies' statement, the core idea behind the transaction was to support WD's transformation into a "storage solutions company with global scale, extensive product and technology assets, and deep expertise in non-volatile memory (NVM)." If successful, the deal could help WD to double its market share and expand beyond its classic field of HDD-based solutions (internal and external storage, NAS, and "personal cloud" systems) into the area of SSDs and other Flash-based devices like PCIe memory cards ("application accelerators"), CF and microSD cards, and the like. Both companies also have strong OEM businesses and R&D departments; their combined IP assets amount to 15,000 issued or pending patents worldwide. Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, WD will continue SanDisk's joint venture with Toshiba, a partnership that was established 16 years ago to ensure the development and manufacturing of NAND Flash media.

Both companies expect the transaction to be closed between July and September next year. While the directorial boards have already nodded in approval, the shareholder vote from SanDisk is still pending; moreover, if WD can't get Unisplendour on board, its shareholders will have to cast a vote as well. Should the merger go undeterred, WD's Steve Milligan will become CEO of the combined company headquartered in Irvine, California; Sanjay Mehrotra, co-founder and CEO of SanDisk, will join WD's board of directors.

The SanDisk version of the joint press release is here. For more background information, see Chris Mellor's analysis at The Register and Lucas Mearian's piece at Computerworld.


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