Seagate ends acquisition talks, starts $2 billion buyback

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It looks like Seagate is not going private after all. After acknowledging a “preliminary indication of interest” on a potential private-equity buyout in October, the company has now decided to end all discussions and instead will be buying $2 billion of its own shares back. Apparently, talks collapsed after the buyout firm TPG Capital wasn’t able to find other partners to raise enough financing for the takeover – expected to require up to $4 billion.

The growing shift towards flash-based storage may have made potential buyers reluctant to take the bid higher, especially when looking at the next few years. But for now the HDD market is still a strong, cash-generating business and Seagate seems optimist about the future. The company said it believes that demand has improved, and it expects revenue to be at least $2.7 billion for the current quarter, and gross margin as a percent of revenue to be at least 19.5%.

That’s down from approximately $3.03 billion revenue and gross margin of 30.5% a in the year-ago quarter, but they don’t seem in a hurry to sell the company for several times less their past year's earnings. Even if prospects look better for solid-state drives, traditional hard drives are not going away anytime soon, but on the other hand the company has enough to worry about losing its leadership position to Western Digital and dwindling profits from increased competition.

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