Tsinghua Holdings, parent company of Unisplendour and Tsinghua Unigroup is also the business affiliate of one of China’s top universities and is state owned. The WDC investment follows Unisplendour’s $2.3 billion, 51% controlling stake of HP’s Chinese server division, H3C Technologies. Tsinghua Unigroup, according to sources and as reported by the New York Times on July 14, 2015, had also made a $23 billion bid for Micron Technology, maker of NAND, DRAM and SSDs – a bid that did not materialize into an actual deal. Clearly the China government, through Tsinghua’s subsidiaries has been active in investing in a wide variety of technology assets. The equity stake in WDC by Unisplendour has likely been in progress for a number of months. Would this investment by a Chinese entity make it easier for MOFCOM to rescind most of its hold-separate conditions on WD and HGST? Without a definitive statement by anyone directly involved in the matter, the causality of the Unisplendour and MOFCOM decisions remains speculative.
Also, while the $3.8 billion investment into WDC (which is scheduled to close sometime in CQ1 ’16) provides the storage device company a good foundation for a bid to buy SanDisk, WDC structured its SanDisk bid in a manner that, no matter the timing or the outcome of the Unispendour investment, could still proceed to fund its take-over of SanDisk.
MOFCOM has relented in its precedence-setting decisions to keep the two 2011 HDD acquisitions – Seagate’s purchase of Samsung HDD and WDC’s acquisition of HGST – separate, with the government ministry lifting most or all of its hold-separate conditions for both deals this week (the Seagate decision was handed down three days after WDC’s). This should enable the two largest HDD companies to begin integrating their respective operations to improve efficiencies and to deal with the rapidly changing end-market conditions for storage devices and systems.
WDC, has already made its first – and big – step in announcing its acquisition of SanDisk. It will be nearly a year before this deal closes, but moving forward, the combined companies have a compelling line up of technologies and products to evolve with the market. What Seagate does next has not yet been announced, but certainly, many are expecting a similarly transformative acquisition in the not too distant future.