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Seagate Technology has publicly revealed that it would enter the market of flash-based solid-state drives in 2009, but target only enterprise customers initially. Despite of relatively low volumes of flash the company is going to need next year, some analysts believe that the hard drive maker is looking forward to acquire a manufacturer of flash memory, or a stake in such a company.

One of the expectations is that Seagate Technology, currently the world’s top maker of hard disk drives, intends to acquire Intel’s stake in IM Flash, a joint-venture between Intel Corp. and Micron Corp. The move would allow Seagate to gain capacity to produce flash, but Intel would also like to have certain portion of IM’s manufacturing capacity guaranteed going forward.

“We believe the joint venture is unprofitable for Intel and it would be logical for it to exit the partnership if Intel were able to maintain some guaranteed capacity. Seagate would gain the capacity it needs and Intel would have a way out of its moneylosing venture while still being a player in the solid-state disk market,” said Daniel Amir, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, in a report, according to EETimes web-site.

Avi Cohen, an analyst at Avian Securities, said that Seagate Technology had already negotiated about flash production capacities with Hynix Semiconductor, though, without luck, reports Barron's Online. Besides, Mr. Cohen speculated that Seagate, which market capitalization is $9.52 billion and which has $1.28 billion in cash, could acquire Sandisk, which capitalization is $4.68 billion and who has $1.85 billion in cash.

Even though in the long term Seagate might be interested in securing its own manufacturing capacities on the flash market, making huge investments into risky flash business before even entering the market of SSDs may not be a way that the hard drive maker chooses.

Seagate did not comment on the news-story.


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