Hitachi buys IBM's hard drive business for $2B

IBM and Hitachi Ltd. have reached a final agreement to combine their hard disk drive units into a new company majority-owned by Hitachi, the two companies announced today.

Hitachi plans to purchase the majority of IBM's drive-related assets for $2.05 billion, including IBM's drive-related intellectual property rights. Hitachi will initially hold 70% of the new venture and assume full ownership after three years, the companies said.

The new company, yet to be named, will be based in San Jose. Its management team will be organized by executives from Hitachi and IBM's existing hard disk drive units, the statement said.

Jun Naruse, formerly CEO of Hitachi Data Systems Corp., will be the new company's CEO, and Douglas Grose, currently general manager of IBM's storage technology division, will be chief operating officer. Hitachi will select the new company's board of directors, and IBM will not be involved in board operations.

The deal is expected to close by the end of this year and Hitachi hopes to found the new company sometime in 2003, said Hirotaka Ohno, a Hitachi spokesman.

Approximately 24,000 employees, about 18,000 from IBM and 6,000 from Tokyo-based Hitachi, will be transferred to the new company, which will have 11 manufacturing bases worldwide. No layoffs are expected during this transfer, Ohno said.

Hitachi said it expects the new company to achieve sales of $5 billion in fiscal 2003, and it will target annual sales of $7 billion by fiscal 2006.

The deal formalizes a disk drive alliance IBM and Hitachi announced in April (see story). The aim is to make the combined company the largest in the hard disk drive business and one capable of generating profits in the highly competitive market, the companies said at a Tokyo news conference in April.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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