Western Digital and Samsung -- Possible Major Consolidation in HDD market

By Amelia Torres and Marisa Gonzalez Iglesias, European Commission Press Release Office (Brussells, Belgium). 

Brussels, 30 May 2011 -- The European Commission has opened two separate in-depth investigations under the EU Merger Regulation into two proposed concentrations in the hard disk drive ("HDD") sector. The first transaction concerns the planned acquisition of the HDD business of Korean firm Samsung by Seagate Technology of the US. The second transaction concerns the planned acquisition of the storage business of Japan's Hitachi by Western Digital Corporation of the US. HDDs systems are used in a variety of professional and consumer electronic goods to store and access digital data, including computers, digital video recorders and camcorders. Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquin Almunia said: "Hard drives are the backbone of the digital economy. The sector has already experienced significant consolidation and the proposed acquisitions will further reduce competition. The Commission will carefully examine if effective competition is preserved and innovation encouraged."

The Commission's initial market investigation indicated that both transactions raise potential competition concerns. There are currently five HDD manufacturers worldwide: Seagate, Western Digital, Hitachi (recently renamed Viviti Technologies) Toshiba and Samsung.

A merger between Seagate/Samsung, the first deal to be notified on 19 April, would consolidate Seagate's leading position in the overall market for HDDs, particularly in the manufacture of 3.5" desktop HDDs where it would only face two competitors (Western Digital and Hitachi). The Western Digital/Hitachi transaction, which was examined in the light of the previous deal, would create the world's market leader in the overall HDD market. For 3.5'' desktop HDDs in particular, the only competitor would be Seagate/Samsung. For 2.5'' mobile HDDs, it would only face Seagate/Samsung and Toshiba. 

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