Two of the largest NAND flash manufacturers are eyeing up a mega merger, reports suggest. Kioxia, once part of Toshiba, is said to be nearing a deal with Western Digital that would see the two companies combine to become a new SSD storage entity to rival market share leader Samsung.
According to Kyodo News, the companies are expected to agree to the merger by the end of the month.
US-based Western Digital’s shareholders are expected to own 50.1% of the new company when the deal goes through. Kioxia will make up the rest. Toshiba and SK Hynix will have a say in how the new company will be set up, however, as Toshiba still owns a huge stake in Kioxia since the company was spun out of its own memory arm and SK Hynix is an indirect investor, Nikkei reports.
Nikkei suggests WD and Kioxia have already secured $12.7 billion from Japanese investors to finance the merger.
If you’re not overly familiar with the two companies, WD currently manufactures our pick for the best SSD for gaming, the WD Black SN850X. Kioxia used to go by Toshiba Memory Corporation, which is the company credited with inventing flash memory, and was renamed to Kioxia in 2019.
The deal would create a mega manufacturer in the NAND manufacturing industry. According to TrendForce’s market research from early September, Samsung is the largest producer of NAND flash with 31.1% of the market. Second is Kioxia, with 19.6% of the market. Western Digital comes in fourth with 14.7% of the market.
Add up Kioxia and WD’s market share and you’ve got a whopping 34.3% of the market under a single company. That’s more than market leader Samsung can claim.
This sort of merger should light a fire under Samsung’s behind; the company has recently dropped its NAND chip production significantly to try and prevent supply from outstripping demand. Though a merger between WD and Kioxia would also allow the two companies to manage their inventories, and therefore prices, a whole lot easier. Competition to produce the NAND flash storage used in SSDs is one reason why SSDs are so damned cheap nowadays.
If this deal is to get the green light from all parties involved, we’ll surely hear before the end of the month. That’s far from the final approval needed for a merger, however. Regulatory bodies will have to give this deal the go ahead. That could be tricky if any one country feels slighted by the proposed deal.