Western Digital clears regulatory hurdles to buy SanDisk

HDD giant gets hitched to an SSD player.

China's Ministry of Commerce granted regulatory approval for Western Digital to proceed with its proposed $19 billion acquisition of SanDisk. It was the last remaning hurdle, and now that it's been cleared, WD expects to close the transaction on Thursday.

"We are pleased to have received approval from MOFCOM, the final regulatory milestone for our combination with SanDisk," said Steve Milligan, chief executive officer of Western Digital. "We look forward to closing the transaction and to integrating our two global businesses to create the leading storage solutions company."

WD is the world's largest storage provider, but it hasn't been immune to a drop in mainstream PC sales and the increased adoption of SSDs over HDDs. For the three-month period ended April 1, WD reported a 21 percent year-over-year decline in revenue and a massive 81 percent drop in profit.

"Computer usage continues to shift from PCs to mobile devices and enterprise workloads are moving increasingly to cloud-based architectures. Our strategy to become a broad-based provider of media-agnostic storage solutions anticipates these and other trends," WD CEO Steve Milligan said at the time.

WD's presence in the fast growing SSD market has only been through enterprise solutions sold by HGST, which it acquired in 2012 for $4.8 billion. Buying SanDisk expands WD's participation into the consumer SSD market as well, while SanDisk gains access to significantly more resources than it had before.

Things are about to get interesting in the SSD space. Samsung is forging ahead with its 3D V-NAND flash memory, while SanDisk is waiting on the next generation of Toshiba's 15nm NAND flash chips to build 6TB and 8TB SSD solutions, though these will be enteprise-class drives. 

Still, higher capacities could trickle into the consumer space, and at attractive price points to boot. Case in point, SanDisk's 960GB Ultra II (up to 550MB/s sequential read, up to 500MB sequential write) streets for less than $230. That's not as cheap as Adata's 960GB Premier SP550 (up to 520MB/s sequential read, up to 490MB/s sequential write), which streets for $209, but it's in the same neighborhood.

SanDisk also sells a higher performing 960GB SSD as part of its Extreme Pro line (up to 550MB/s sequential read, up to 515MB/ sequential write). That one goes for a little less than $350.

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