Analysts: Seagate is shopping for a NAND flash maker

— 11:40 AM on June 24, 2008

Seagate is in the market for a NAND flash memory maker, according to several analysts. The hard drive maker recently announced plans to start offering solid-state drives, and eWeek quotes Avian Securities' Avi Cohen as saying Seagate needs to secure a flash manufacturing source for that endeavor to be profitable.

In a separate research note, Lazard analyst Daniel Amir speculates that Seagate could buy Intel's 49% stake in IM Flash Technologies. IMFT is Intel's joint flash venture with Micron, and the 49% stake could be worth as much as $2 billion. Intel may be willing to sell, too: Cohen comments that flash prices have been plummeting lately, and Intel has made a habit of pulling out of "underperforming businesses."

That said, Cohen and other analysts think Seagate is likelier to purchase another flash maker like Hynix or SanDisk. Cohen says Micron may not be willing to green-light a deal between Seagate and Intel over IMFT, since that would imply losing its biggest partner. "I think the best thing for Seagate is to buy SanDisk and call it a day," Cohen added.

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