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Toshiba Corp., the world’s second largest producer of flash memory, may acquire SanDisk Corp., a leading supplier of flash-based products and also one of Toshiba’s largest customers. The Japanese electronic conglomerate may be the third company, after Samsung Electronics and Seagate Technologies, who may be interested in assets of SanDisk.

“We need to take preventive steps, if (SanDisk) looks like it will be acquired,” said Shozo Saito, corporate senior vice president on the sidelines of the Industry Strategy and Technology Forum on Tuesday, reports Reuters news-agency. Mr. Saito said that although Toshiba was interested in a combination with SanDisk, there were no concrete negotiations between the two companies.

Earlier on Tuesday SanDisk rejected hostile bid of Samsung Electronics, which proposed to take over the flash products vendor for $5.85 billion.

Samsung and Toshiba are the world’s largest makers of flash memory, who command over one half of the market. Samsung commands roughly 30%, whereas Toshiba has about 20% based on figures by iSuppli market research firm. Late in 2007 the two companies agreed to license packaging and interface technologies for flash products of each other. The pact allows them to support their largest customers in terms of supply when needed to maintain dominant positions on the market.

Under terms of the agreement, Samsung licensed product specifications of its integrated OneNAND and Flex-OneNAND “fusion” memory chips to Toshiba, while Toshiba licensed product specifications of its single-package LBA-NAND and mobileLBA-NAND flash chips to Samsung.

Given that Samsung and Toshiba already work closely with each other, acquisition of SanDisk by any of them would create a truly formidable force on the market of flash-based products that could completely reshape the whole market.

Tags: Toshiba, SanDisk, Samsung, Business

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