Thursday, 22 October 2015 02:40

Western Digital to buy SanDisk for US $19 Billion Featured

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Original image from Pixabay.com Original image from Pixabay.com

Is WhatsApp really worth as much as SanDisk? Facebook eventually paid even more, but with Western Digital buying SanDisk for $19 billion, the combined companies' future looks to being a brightly solid state.

Although there were claims in the media that Samsung might buy SanDisk, hard disk maker Western Digital has snapped up its flashy storage rival, SanDisk, in a deal announced as ‘approximately $19 billion.’

The deal has been announced at WD’s website (and no doubt in other places too), with the companies claiming a ‘new platform’ that ‘creates greater scale and ability to deliver extensive portfolio of innovative products and technology.’

There’s also the claim that the ‘combined business [is] well-positioned to capture growth and opportunities created by rapidly evolving storage industry.’

It is certainly true that the storage industry is rapidly evolving, and while there undoubtedly remains a place for physical spinning media, flash storage is hotter than ever - while being more affordable and faster than ever too.

WD and SanDisk also note that the joint venture with Toshiba ‘provides stable NAND supply at scale through a time-tested business model and extends across NVM technologies such as 3D NAND.’

Of course, if the business model was so time-tested, you do have to wonder why SanDisk needed to sell itself, but it certainly does provide Western Digital a solidly transformational moment.

The company says this combination ‘is the next step in the transformation of Western Digital into a storage solutions company with global scale, extensive product and technology assets, and deep expertise in non-volatile memory (NVM).’

WD says the deal ‘will double its addressable market and expand its participation in higher-growth segments,’ clearly parlaying SanDisk’s 27-year history of innovation and expertise in NVM, systems solutions and manufacturing, while enabling WD to’vertically integrate into NAND, securing long-term access to solid state technology at lower cost.’

That sounds like a pretty important thing for a HDD company wanting to truly master SSD if you ask me.

Naturally, WD talks up the creation of ’significant value for both SanDisk and Western Digital shareholders,’ but let’s hope there’s some pretty significant value for customers, too, although the deal wouldn’t be being done if that wasn’t also part of the plan.

And, WD also talks up its ‘successful track record of M&A with a number of acquisitions over the last several years helping to fuel innovation, create value and strongly position the company to capture higher-growth opportunities.’

Steve Milligan, CEO of WD said: “This transformational acquisition aligns with our long-term strategy to be an innovative leader in the storage industry by providing compelling, high-quality products with leading technology.

"The combined company will be ideally positioned to capture the growth opportunities created by the rapidly evolving storage industry. 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."

Sanjay Mehrotra, president and CEO of SanDisk said: “Western Digital is globally recognised as a leading provider of storage solutions and has a 45-year legacy of developing and manufacturing cutting-edge solutions, making the company the ideal strategic partner for SanDisk.

"Importantly, this combination also creates an even stronger partner for our customers. Joining forces with Western Digital will enable the combined company to offer the broadest portfolio of industry-leading, innovative storage solutions to customers across a wide range of markets and applications."

Again, there’s a lot of complimentary talk about WD and SanDisk’s complementary product lines, including HDDs, SSDs, cloud datacenter storage solutions and flash storage solutions, which both say ‘will provide the foundation for a broader set of products and technologies from consumer to datacenter.’

There’s also the explanation that ‘both companies have strong R&D and engineering capabilities and a rich base of fundamental technologies with over 15,000 combined patents issued or pending worldwide,’ so the future seems bright - except, I guess, for those that will inevitably be seen as surplus to the merged company’s needs when those inevitable job cuts happen.

As alluded to above, the Toshiba connection will be ongoing, with Toshiba having been SanDisk’s long-term strategic partner for 15 years.

WD says ‘the joint venture (JV) with Toshiba will be ongoing, enabling vertical integration through a technology partnership driven by deep collaboration across design and process capabilities,’ and that ‘the JV provides stable NAND supply at scale through a time-tested business model and extends across NVM technologies such as 3D NAND.’

Steve Milligan will be the CEO of the combined company, which will stay headquartered in Irvine California, while SanDisk CEO Sanjay Mehrotra, upon the deal’s closing, will be ‘expected to join the Western Digital Board of Directors.’

For more detail including the financial arrangements that underlies the deal’s US $19 billion of value, take a look at WD’s media release here.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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