SAN FRANCISCO // US flash memory maker SanDisk Corp rejected a near US$6 billion (Dh22 billion) offer from global market leader Samsung Electronics, but said it would not rule out a deal at a better price. Buying SanDisk would expand Samsung's flash memory market share at a time when the industry is battling steep price falls in memory chips because of overproduction. The South Korean firm pays SanDisk more than $350m a year in royalty payments to use patented flash technology. A takeover would cut those costs.
SanDisk said in a statement it turned down Samsung's $26-a-share cash offer, but remained open to a deal with Samsung at a price that recognises its "intrinsic value". James Chung, a Samsung spokesman in Seoul, said the company had not yet made any decision on whether to raise its bid. Flash memory is a form of convenient and compact data storage that is used in a number of consumer gadgets, including digital cameras, cellphones and portable music players. SanDisk uses Samsung's chips in its flash memory products.
SanDisk shares soared 53 per cent to $23 in extended trading yesterday after Samsung went public with its bid following months of private talks that failed to produce a deal. Shares in Samsung, South Korea's biggest stock, were 1.7 per cent higher lagging behind the broader Seoul market's 3.1 per cent gain. Samsung had indicated in May its willingness to pay more than $28.75 per share, a source said. Analysts said Samsung may still buy SanDisk shares from institutional investors at the proposed price of $26 each, building up a minority stake to put more pressure on its target.
"Given SanDisk shares have lost so much value since late last year, and the flash market is suffering a downturn that is likely to last for a while, there must be some institutional investors who want to sell to Samsung (and exit the market)," said Park Hyun, an analyst at Prudential Investment & Securities. "Samsung very likely has made some sort of arrangements with them before making the offer. Samsung could secure 20-30 per cent of SanDisk initially, then work on raising its stake."
Writing to the SanDisk CEO Eli Harari, the Samsung CEO Yoon-Woo Lee said he was "deeply disappointed" that the California based company "continues to cling to unrealistic expectations on both its stand-alone market value and an appropriate merger price". * Reuters