Storage firm Western Digital is to acquire flash memory specialist SanDisk for $19bn in a move demonstrating the growing importance of flash in the storage market, as well as the increasing consolidation among suppliers.
Western Digital and SanDisk jointly announced the upcoming acquisition, which will see SanDisk purchased for approximately $19bn, subject to approval by SanDisk shareholders and other conditions. The transaction is not expected to close until the third calendar quarter of 2016.
The move comes just a week after Dell announced its acquisition of enterprise storage giant EMC, and Western Digital has itself acquired other firms in the recent past, notably Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, making it the largest of the handful of traditional hard drive makers still remaining.
This latest acquisition was hailed by Western Digital as the next step in its transformation into a storage solutions company with global scale, extensive products and technology assets.
"The combined company will be ideally positioned to capture the growth opportunities created by the rapidly evolving storage industry," said Western Digital chief executive Steve Milligan in a statement".
"I'm excited to welcome the SanDisk team as we look to create additional value for all of our stakeholders, including our customers, shareholders and employees."
SanDisk is a leading manufacturer of flash memory components and products, an area where Western Digital has so far been weak, so the acquisition makes sense, according to Andy Buss, consulting manager at analyst firm IDC.
"Western Digital, along with other spinning disk manufacturers, missed the boat to flash early on, and perhaps didn't take it seriously enough, so it has been behind the curve," he told V3.
"For long-term success, you need spinning and flash as well as other types of memory, so it seems like a good marriage."
Flash memory has been reshaping the entire storage market, replacing spinning hard drives in everything from laptops to data centre storage arrays. SanDisk has a large presence in this market, producing everything from flash chips to USB memory sticks to solid state drives (SSDs), and last year acquired Fusion-io, a developer of enterprise flash storage and accelerator products.
SanDisk also has a technology partnership with Toshiba for joint development of next-generation 3D Nand flash, which is being manufactured at a Toshiba facility in Japan, and Western Digital and SanDisk indicated that this relationship will continue.
The two firms said that their complementary product lines, including hard disks, SSDs, data centre storage solutions and flash storage solutions, will provide the foundation for a broader set of products and technologies from consumer to the data centre.
However, Buss expressed scepticism regarding whether SanDisk will be able to continue marketing products such as the InfiniFlash enterprise storage arrays launched earlier this year.
"Can they sustain being a supplier to the storage industry and a competitor for their products at the same time?" he asked.
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