You know how everybody owns everybody and even though you see different brands, they really are the same company? That kind of idea infiltrates just about every industry and the hard drive business is no exception. The latest deal sees Hitachi Global Storage Technologies snatched up by Western Digital for a cool $4.3 billion.
The deal is worth $3.5 billion in cash and $750 million in WD common stock. The brand and headquarters for Western Digital will emerge out the other end, but Hitachi GST’s president and CEO will take over as the president of Western Digital.
Will this help or hurt innovation? Will this help or hurt competition? Well, we already saw a similar deal six years ago when Seagate picked up Maxtor for $2 billion. With today’s announcement, the WD vs. Seagate battle just stepped up another notch, as if it wasn’t already clear enough that these are the two biggest juggernauts in the HDD game.
Combination of Hard Drive Companies Will Create Industry’s Broadest Product Portfolio and a Significant Pool of Resources for Innovation
IRVINE, Calif. and SAN JOSE, Calif., March 7, 2011 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Western Digital (NYSE: WDC) and Hitachi, Ltd. (NYSE: HIT / TSE:6501) announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement whereby WD will acquire Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $4.3 billion. The proposed combination will result in a customer-focused storage company, with significant operating scale, strong global talent and the industry’s broadest product lineup backed by a rich technology portfolio.
Under the terms of the agreement, WD will acquire Hitachi GST for $3.5 billion in cash and 25 million WD common shares valued at $750 million, based on a WD closing stock price of $30.01 as of March 4, 2011. Hitachi, Ltd. will own approximately ten percent of Western Digital shares outstanding after issuance of the shares and two representatives of Hitachi will be added to the WD board of directors at closing. The transaction has been approved by the board of directors of each company and is expected to close during the third calendar quarter of 2011, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. WD plans to fund the transaction with a combination of existing cash and total debt of approximately $2.5 billion.
WD expects the transaction to be immediately accretive to its earnings per share on a non-GAAP basis, excluding acquisition-related expenses, restructuring charges and amortization of intangibles.
The resulting company will retain the Western Digital name and remain headquartered in Irvine, California. John Coyne will remain chief executive officer of WD, Tim Leyden chief operating officer and Wolfgang Nickl chief financial officer. Steve Milligan, president and chief executive officer of Hitachi GST, will join WD at closing as president, reporting to John Coyne.
“The acquisition of Hitachi GST is a unique opportunity for WD to create further value for our customers, stockholders, employees, suppliers and the communities in which we operate,” said John Coyne, president and chief executive officer of WD. “We believe this step will result in several key benefits-enhanced R&D capabilities, innovation and expansion of a rich product portfolio, comprehensive market coverage and scale that will enhance our cost structure and ability to compete in a dynamic marketplace. The skills and contributions of both workforces were key considerations in assessing this compelling opportunity. We will be relying on the proven integration capabilities of both companies to assure the ongoing satisfaction of our customers and to bring this combination to successful fruition.”
“This brings together two industry leaders with consistent track records of strong execution and industry outperformance,” said Steve Milligan, president and chief executive officer, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. “Together we can provide customers worldwide with the industry’s most compelling and diverse set of products and services, from innovative personal storage to solid state drives for the enterprise.”
Hiroaki Nakanishi, president, Hitachi, Ltd. said, “As the former CEO of Hitachi GST, I always believed in the potential of Hitachi GST to become a larger and more agile company. This is a strategic combination of two industry leaders, both growing and profitable. It provides an opportunity for the new company to increase customer and shareholder value and expand into new markets. Additionally, it is important to us that WD shares common values with Hitachi GST to create a more global company that is well positioned to define a broader role in the evolving storage industry.”
WD’s exclusive financial adviser on the transaction is Bank of America Merrill Lynch; its lead legal adviser is O’Melveny & Myers LLP. Goldman, Sachs & Co serves as financial adviser to Hitachi, Ltd. and Hitachi GST. Legal advisers to Hitachi, Ltd. and Hitachi GST are Morrison Foerster LLP and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates, respectively.