Wow. Looks like the Wall Street Journal was more or less right on the money yesterday. Seagate and Samsung have announced a "broad strategic alignment," as part of which Seagate will take over Samsung's hard-drive operations in exchange for a cool $1.375 billion (paid half in cash, half in Seagate stock).
There's quite a bit more to this deal than just Samsung's HDD business changing hands, though. Here's a list of the "major elements of the agreement," in the two companies' words:
- Samsung combining its hard disk drive (HDD) operations into Seagate
- Extending and enhancing the existing patent cross-license agreement between the companies
- A NAND flash memory supply agreement under which Samsung will provide Seagate with its market-leading semiconductor products for use in Seagate’s enterprise solid state drives (SSDs), solid state hybrid drives and other products
- A disk drive supply agreement under which Seagate will supply disk drives to Samsung for PCs, notebooks and consumer electronics
- Expanded cooperation between the companies to co-develop enterprise storage solutions
- Samsung receiving significant equity ownership in Seagate
- A shareholder agreement under which an executive of Samsung will be nominated to join Seagate’s Board of Directors
That NAND supply agreement is particularly interesting, because yes, in case you forgot, Seagate does offer a line of solid-state drives—and Samsung just happens to be the world's biggest supplier of NAND flash memory. Also, that half-cash, half-stock payment means Samsung will end up with 9.6% ownership of Seagate. I imagine the word "synergy" was used extensively during the negotiations, and quite rightly so.
In any case, the deal is expected to close by the end of the calendar year. That will leave the hard drive market with just three major players: Western Digital, Seagate, and Toshiba. (WD agreed to buy out Hitachi Global Storage Technologies earlier this year, and Toshiba took on Fujitsu's hard-drive back in 2009.)