The flash memory market just became a lot more competitive

In what continues to be a wave of large acquisitions, SanDisk announced today that it has agreed to buy M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers Ltd. for $1.35 billion in stock. M-Systems is an Israeli competitor of SanDisk. According to SanDisk, the deal brings together strengths of both SanDisk and M-Systems. According to SanDisk's press release:

SanDisk Corporation and Msystems Ltd.  today entered into definitive agreements for SanDisk to acquire Msystems in an all stock transaction. This combination joins together two flash memory pioneers with complementary products, customers and channels. Together the combined company will have the people, technology, manufacturing and IP to play a leading role in creating new markets and accelerating the penetration of flash memory into existing storage applications.

SanDisk's CEO Eli Harari believes that the NAND flash market is largely "untapped." Indeed there have been significant developments in the flash memory industry since the start of the year. SanDisk itself recently announced that it will cooperate with Toshiba a massive NAND flash fabrication facility in Japan. The new facility will produce memory cells on 300mm wafers and is set to go into production sometime in Q4'07. Earlier this month, Intel and Micron's joint company, IM Flash Technologies, announced that it had produced the world's first 50nm flash cell.

While the SanDisk acquisition means good news for M-Systems, the company is currently under investigation with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice for allegedly backdating illegal stock option grants. Currently, a number of other companies are under investigation, including Apple.

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