Report: Samsung to sell HDD business, Seagate interested

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Samsung Electronics is pondering a sale of its loss-making hard disk drive unit to invest in other areas of growth, according to a report on the Wall Street Journal. Citing "a person familiar with the matter," the paper claims Samsung wants to get as much as $1.5 billion in the sale but may take less than $1 billion. Interestingly, a potential buyer for the business is the world's second largest hard disk vendor, Seagate Technology.

It was just a few months ago that Seagate was looking for a buyer in an attempt to take its business private. But after dropping those plans to start a $2 million buyback of shares, it looks like the company is now ready to expand its market share by making an acquisition of its own. Samsung held about a 10.7% share of the global hard disk drive market in the last quarter. An acquisition would put Seagate in a stronger position against current leader Western Digital, which recently agreed to buy Hitachi GST for $4.3 billion, and further distance it from third place Toshiba/Fujitsu.

Samsung is the world's biggest maker of memory chips and LCD televisions so it's money could be better spent in those areas. The company also recently announced a joint venture with U.S.-based biopharmaceutical firm Quintiles Transnational Corp., as part of a plan to diversify away from consumer electronics.

At this point neither Samsung nor Seagate have confirmed any acquisition talks. The deal would still have to go through antitrust authorities as usual, but given the green light, it would produce two nearly equally matched manufacturers, Seagate and Western Digital with almost half of the HDD market each, while Toshiba takes the remaining 10%.

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