Components & Peripherals News
Western Digital, Kioxia Merger Talks On Again: Report
Joseph F. Kovar
The revived merger talks, should they lead to an actual deal, could strengthen the two in their battle for flash storage leadership at a time when larger competitors like Intel are investing heavily to move the production of flash and other memory technology away from China.
Merger talks between Western Digital and Kioxia appear to have begun again, a move that would if successful would consolidate the storage drive industry down to a tiny handful of vendors.
Western Digital, the San Jose, Calif.-based developer of hard and flash storage drives and storage systems, and Kioxia, the Japan-based developer of flash memory and flash storage drives, are considering merging into a single publicly-traded company, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.
Both Western Digital and Kioxia responded to a CRN request for further information by saying the companies do not comment on speculation about rumors or M&A activity.
This is not the first time the two companies have considered a merger. Western Digital and Kioxia were discussing a merger in August, 2021, although those talks went nowhere.
Prior to that, Western Digital and Boise, Idaho-based DRAM and flash memory manufacturer Micron were looking at a possible acquisition of Kioxia in a deal that might value Kioxia at about $30 billion.
Western Digital and Kioxia have a 20-year joint venture for developing flash memory at the Yokkaichi Plant, the largest semiconductor plant in Japan.
Western Digital in June said it was evaluating strategic and financial alternatives, including a full separation of its flash business. Such a separation, should it come to pass, would follow a similar move by Intel late 2021 to sell its flash technology business to South Korea-based SK Hynix, which became a new flash storage company named Solidigm.
Kioxia, which until October of 2019 was known as Toshiba Memory, continues to be a world leader in memory and SSD technologies, including SLC NAND flash memory, NAND with integrated controllers, and 3D BiCS FLASH technology, along with enterprise, data center, and client SSDs.
A merger with Kioxia would give Western Digital access to top-notch flash memory and SSD technology during a time when the U.S. government and IT industry are both continuing to look for ways to reduce reliance on overseas suppliers of high-value technologies in the face of competitive threats from China where much of the storage industry’s production is centered.
This comes at a time when Intel is planning to invest over $20 billion to construct two new leading-edge chip factories in Ohio, in addition to $20 billion it plans to invest in two new fabs in Arizona and $3.5 billion it plans to invest in semiconductor packaging facilities in New Mexico.