Shares of flash memory chipmaker SanDisk ( SNDK) rose 10% Friday on renewed rumors that Samsung and possibly Toshiba are interested in taking over the company. Samsung made hostile bid of $26 a share in September, and SanDisk felt it was worth much more, chip watchers will recall. SanDisk shares shot up immediately after a story was posted at EETimes Friday. The report cited unnamed sources saying that Samsung may have a bidding rival now that Toshiba had entered the picture. But the idea of a bidding war for SanDisk was quickly shot down by some who have been watching this story. One chip investor who is long SanDisk dismisses the idea that Toshiba would attempt to swing a deal. Toshiba has neither the money nor the motivation that Samsung has to make an acquisition, says the money manager. Central to the SanDisk takeover drama is a technology licensing agreement that requires Samsung to pay SanDisk somewhere between $300 million to $600 million a year. That contract expires next year and the two companies need to renegotiate. A buyout of SanDisk would help Samsung eliminate those licensing payments. "This is all part of the negotiation process," says the money manager, who doesn't expect any deal to happen until later in the year, if it in fact does. SanDisk isn't exactly in a strong bargaining position. The memory chip industry has been crushed this year by the current economic slump and the steep drop in demand for consumer electronics.
Last month, SanDisk delivered a triple treat of investor disappointments. The company reported that it swung to a massive loss, offered a dim outlook for the business and capped it off with the announcement of a plan to sell more stock. The proceeds would get the company up to $500 million in cash, but dilute shareholders by as much as 20%.