[News] Kioxia and Western Digital Resume Merger Negotiations? Rumors of Bain Negotiating with SK Hynix Surface

NAND flash memory giants Kioxia and Western Digital (WD) were reported to be in negotiations with intentions to merge. However, the merger talks between Kioxia and WD were halted in October last year due to opposition from SK Hynix, the South Korean memory giant indirectly invested in Kioxia.

As per a report from Japanese media 47news, Kioxia has been making adjustments behind the scenes and is interested in restarting merger negotiations with WD. Kioxia’s major shareholder, Bain Capital, is reportedly in negotiations with SK Hynix.

It is reported that Kioxia is also exploring the possibility of cooperation with SK Hynix, but this may pose risks of violating anti-monopoly laws. If Kioxia and WD ultimately fail to merge, going public independently is also an option for Kioxia.

According to the report citing sources, SK Hynix is concerned that a merger between Kioxia and WD would weaken its influence over Kioxia. Therefore, SK Hynix is interested in participating in the integration to safeguard its influence.

On the other hand, WD has announced on October 30 last year that its board had approved a spin-off plan to separate its NAND flash memory division and establish a new company for independent listing, with operations expected to commence in the second half of 2024.

As per TrendForce’s  data for 3Q23, Samsung maintained its position as the top global NAND flash memory manufacturer, commanding a significant market share of 31.4%. Following closely, SK Group secured the second position with a 20.2% market share. Western Digital occupied the third position with a market share of 16.9%, while Japan’s Kioxia held a 14.5% market share.

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(Photo credit: Kioxia)

Please note that this article cites information from 47news and Kioxia.


[Tech Recap and Glimpse 5-3] Can Memory Prices Sustain the Upward Trend Next Year?

The ongoing reduction in production by major manufacturers throughout this year has gradually restored balance to the market supply and demand. This is beneficial for chip manufacturers to regain control over prices. Signs of a bottoming out and rebound have emerged in the memory market in the third quarter of this year.

TrendForce data reveals that the overall price of DRAM has been declining since 4Q21 and only began to rebound in 4Q23, marking a total decline over 8 quarters. As for NAND Flash, the overall price started declining from 3Q22 and began to rebound from 3Q23, totaling a decline over 4 quarters.

However, despite the recovery in demand, achieving effective destocking and returning to a state of supply-demand equilibrium next year still heavily relies on suppliers exercising restraint in production capacity. If suppliers can control production capacity appropriately, there is a chance for the average memory prices to continue their rebound.

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(Photo credit: Samsung)


[News] Market Anticipates a 50% Price Surge for NAND Flash in Short-Term

After a rebound from the decline in NAND prices, the current quotations still show a gap from reaching the breakeven point for suppliers such as Samsung, Kioxia, SK Hynix, and Micron.

Major domestic players in the NAND Flash industry indicate that NAND Flash suppliers, driven by the goal of profitability, will continue to aggressively raise prices. It is anticipated that prices will need to increase by over 40% once again for major manufacturers to break even. To achieve profitability, future price hikes are expected to be at least 50% or even higher, according to Economic Daily News.

Looking at the global NAND Flash market share in 3Q23, according to a report from TrendForce, Samsung holds the leading position with a market share of 31.4%. The second position is held by the SK group, with a market share of 20.2%, followed by the U.S.-based Western Digital at third place with a market share of 16.9%. The Japanese company, Kioxia ranks fourth with a market share of approximately 14.5%.

The industry indicates that due to the lower profitability of NAND Flash compared to DRAM, international giants are actively reducing NAND Flash production.

Taking Samsung as an example, since September of this year, the reduction in NAND chip production has expanded to 50% of total capacity, focusing on products with stacked layers up to 128 layers. The goal is to accelerate destocking and stabilize prices, with plans to gradually increase prices in 2024.

TrendForce has indicated that following Samsung’s expansion of the production reduction to 50%, other suppliers are also maintaining a restrained wafer allocation strategy. After more than half a year of production reduction in some processes and capacities, there is a structural supply shortage, providing an advantage for chip manufacturers in price control. Observing the market in the fourth quarter, there are almost no low-priced sources available for purchase. However, buyers still tend to maintain high inventory levels and continue purchasing.

Industry sources revealed that the NAND chip prices had plummeted too deeply before. Although the quarterly increase in contract prices seems substantial, there is still a distance for chip manufacturers to achieve a turnaround. It is expected that prices need to increase by another 40% to allow suppliers to cross the breakeven point. Therefore, prices are expected to be quite strong in the coming quarters.

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(Photo credit: Samsung)

Please note that this article cites information from Economic Daily News


[News] Improvement in Memory Inventory Leads to First Price Increase in Two and a Half Years

After more than two years of stagnation in the memory market, which was exacerbated by production cuts from major players like Samsung and Micron earlier this year, the issue of overstock has finally seen improvement.

As per Nikkei’s report, this has driven an increase in prices for DRAM, marking the first such occurrence in nearly two and a half years. Observers are optimistic that the memory market will hit bottom this year, with a recovery and growth expected in 2024.

According to TrendForce’s data, the contract price for the DDR4 8GB, considered a benchmark product for DRAM, reached USD 1.50 in October, a 15.4% increase from September and the first increase since July 2021. The contract price for the same product continued to rise in November by 10%, reaching USD 1.65.

In addition to the DDR4 8GB product, other specifications of DRAM contract prices generally experienced monthly increases of around 10% in October this year. Generally, memory contract prices are determined collaboratively by chip suppliers and corporate customers, and an increase in contract prices signifies an advantage for suppliers.

There are signs of a bottoming out and rebound in the DRAM market in the third quarter of this year. TrendForce indicated that the global DRAM market’s revenue increased by 18% compared to the previous quarter, reaching USD 13.48 billion.

This growth, reportedly, is primarily attributed to production cuts by major suppliers throughout the year, gradually restoring balance to the market supply and demand.

The report also reflects on the pandemic period, noting that the global surge in remote work initially led to a sharp increase in demand for memory. However, as the pandemic gradually subsided in 2021, market demand cooled.

Additionally, persistent challenges such as high inflation and interest rates impacting consumer spending weakened demand for PCs and various consumer electronic devices. This, in turn, led to global oversupply in memory, causing prices to decline consistently.

Major DRAM manufacturers, including Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron, have been reducing production since the beginning of this year, and they have recently managed to reverse the downturn.

Samsung reported a 16% revenue growth in the third quarter, while SK Hynix achieved an impressive growth rate of 34.4%. Despite a decline in average selling prices, Micron’s third-quarter chip shipment growth contributed to an overall revenue growth of 4.2%.

Moreover, the global NAND Flash market saw a 2.9% sequential increase in revenue in the third quarter, and a growth rate of 20% is anticipated for the fourth quarter, according to TrendForce’s latest research.

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(Photo credit: Samsung)

Please note that this article cites information from Nikkei 


[News] Samsung’s and SK Hynix’s Potential Expansion Plans Raise Concerns – Major Investments Anticipated Next Year

Amid a gradual recovery in the memory market, South Korean memory giants Samsung and SK Hynix are reportedly set to expand their equipment investments significantly next year.

Samsung aims for a 25% increase in investment, while SK Hynix plans to more than double its investment compared to this year, concurrently increasing production capacity, sparking industry attention.

According to South Korean media outlet ETNEWS, both Samsung and SK Hynix are planning to boost semiconductor equipment investments in 2024. Samsung’s investment is estimated at around KRW 27 trillion (approximately USD 20.78 billion), representing a 25% growth, while SK Hynix plans an investment of around KRW 5.3 trillion (approximately USD 4.07 billion), signaling a 100% increase from this year’s investment.

As ETNEWS’ report revealed, in addition to increasing equipment investment, Samsung and SK Hynix have also raised their production capacity targets for 2024. Samsung plans to expand both DRAM and NAND Flash production by approximately 24%, while SK Hynix aims to elevate DRAM output to levels seen by the end of 2022.

Looking at market share, according to TrendForce’s released data, in terms of third-quarter revenue figures, Samsung holds approximately 38.9% market share in DRAM, while SK Hynix stands at 34.3%.

In the NAND segment, Samsung holds approximately 31.4% market share, while SK Hynix stands at 20.2%.

Market concerns arise as the memory industry, which has recently seen relief from the long-standing oversupply pressure due to major manufacturers reducing production, faces the possibility of disruption once again. Amid the rebound in prices, the significant investments planned by the two major South Korean companies are causing apprehension that the memory industry may face new challenges.

Memory industry sources believe that despite Samsung and SK Hynix’s plans to increase semiconductor equipment investment and boost production capacity in 2024, the tool-in still take time. Improving production capacity utilization is not an instantaneous process.

Furthermore, there is a general consensus in the industry that several AI-related applications in the future will require large-capacity memory support. For instance, the expected 3% growth in global smartphone shipments (based on TrendForce’s report) next year is anticipated to contribute to the expansion of demand in the high-value memory market.

TrendForce also pointed out that recent news about memory manufacturers expanding investment and increasing production capacity is primarily driven by the growing demand in the HBM market, rather than capacity expansion for all products.

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(Photo credit: Samsung)

Please note that this article cites information from ETNEWS

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