Seagate To Buy LaCie To Expand Consumer Storage, Cloud Business

Seagate on Wednesday said it has an agreement to acquire almost 65 percent of the outstanding shares of Paris, France-based LaCie. The deal values LaCie at about $186 million.

LaCie manufactures and sells a wide range of consumer and small business storage products including USB hard drives and other storage devices, networked storage, RAID appliances and optical devices, as well as the Wuala cloud storage service. It also has a large presence in the Apple-related storage business.

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Seagate also has a consumer storage business based on its 2006 acquisition of Maxtor, in addition to having its EVault SMB cloud storage, which it gained in its late 2006 acquisition of EVault.

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Rocky Pimentel, Seagate's chief sales and marketing officer, said the decision to acquire LaCie stemmed from several factors, not the least of which was a long-term relationship between the two companies in which Seagate was a major supplier of hard drives to LaCie.

"Over the course of the last few years, as we were looking at building our consumer storage business, we had more talks with LaCie about strategies and vision," Pimentel said.

Seagate also saw the success LaCie had with driving value in the consumer storage business, which is usually more characterized as a cost-driven business, Pimentel said.

"LaCie, because of its focus on design and ease of use, has established a loyal customer base, which allows them to charge a premium price," he said.

LaCie also brings success in its multi-channel strategy, including consumer channels and a small business-to-business channel, Pimentel said.

"It's successful in many distribution channels where Seagate has been less successful, including channel in Europe and Japan," he said. "Also, walk into any Apple store and LaCie is there."

Once the acquisition closes late this year, Seagate plans call for Philippe Spruch, LaCie's chairman and CEO, to join Seagate and lead the company's consumer storage business, Pimentel said.

Seagate over time will also look at how to adjust the branding of its LaCie and Seagate consumer storage products, he said.

LaCie will bring to Seagate its Wuala consumer-focused cloud storage business, which competes with similar offerings from Carbonite and EMC's Mozy, both of which have maintained a strong consumer focus in the last couple of years while gradually building their small business cloud storage business.