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Western Digital, Micron Eyeing Kioxia Acquisition: WSJ

The possibility that Micron or Western Digital might acquire flash memory and SSD manufacturer Kioxia for perhaps $30 billion comes at a time when the United States is looking at ways to lower its reliance on foreign production of semiconductors and other critical components.

Kioxia, the memory and SSD manufacturer carved out of Toshiba in 2018, may be an acquisition target of either Micron Technology or Western Digital, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Should such an acquisition happen, it might be finalized this spring in a deal that could value Kioxia at about $30 billion, the Journal reported.

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. Kioxia last year postponed a planned IPO because of export restrictions related to sales to China-based Huawei as well as issues related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

[Related: The 10 Hottest SSD And Flash Storage Devices Of 2020]

According to Reuters, Kioxia in September postponed what had been expected to be Japan’s largest IPO in 2020. Kioxia had planned to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange by offering up to about $3.2 billion in shares. The IPO could still go through in 2021.

Kioxia and Western Digital did not respond to CRN requests for further information by press time. A Micro spokesperson told CRN via email that the company “does not comment on rumors or speculation.”

Kioxia could be an interesting fit for either Micron or Western Digital, especially with an expected push by the U.S. government to encourage companies to expand semiconductor production in the country to reduce reliance on foreign production. Kioxia has R&D facilities in Japan, the U.S., the U.K., Israel and India.

For Western Digital, the acquisition would be a way to solidify the 20-year relationship it has with Kioxia and with Toshiba before Kioxia was founded. Western Digital and Toshiba Memory also jointly invested in flash memory manufacturing in Japan before Toshiba spun out Kioxia. That relationship continues. Kioxia earlier this year broke ground on a new Japan-based facility for manufacturing its proprietary 3D flash memory BiCS FLASH.

For Micron, the deal would come on the heels of its recent decision to exit the production of 3D XPoint memory technology, which it initially developed in a joint venture with Intel. It would give Micron the opportunity to expand its already large flash memory development and manufacturing capabilities.

Western Digital stock was up about 7 percent in after-hours trading Wednesday to $71.70, while Micron stock rose more than 4 percent to $91.85.

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