Report: SanDisk exploring bid for rival Lexar
Flash memory maker SanDisk is exploring an acquisition of rival Lexar, according to a report.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Flash memory maker SanDisk is exploring the option of making an unsolicited bid for its competitor Lexar Media, according to a report citing sources familiar with the situation.

SanDisk (up $2.76 to $62.23, Research) hired Morgan Stanley to explore the acquisition, according to a report in TheDeal.com. Last month, Micron (down $0.06 to $15.26, Research) announced it would acquire Lexar (up $0.38 to $9.17, Research) in a stock-for-stock deal. Some of Lexar's largest shareholders, including Carl Icahn, have opposed that deal, according to the report.

SanDisk's stock shot up 3.55 percent in early trading from yesterday's closing price of $59.47. The company will be added to the S&P 500 index next week, replacing drug maker Chiron, which is being acquired by Swiss drug maker Novartis.

Eric Ross, an analyst with ThinkEquity Partners, said a SanDisk-Lexar deal would make less sense for Lexar than the Lexar-Micron deal and would not make sense for SanDisk.

"Could SanDisk be interested? I don't know why they would be," he said. "With the Micron-Lexar deal, there are good synergies."

Ross said Lexar has no manufacturing capacity but has a strong distribution channel, while Micron will soon have plenty of manufacturing capacity but needs a strong distribution channel.

"SanDisk overlaps a lot of what Lexar does," said Ross. "If they were buying Lexar what am I buying? They won't get the same synergies."

But Rick Whittington, analyst with Caris & Company, thinks it could be a defensive move by SanDisk to thwart Micron, which he feels is buying Lexar to gain access to some of Lexar's patents.

Whittington said buying Lexar and thereby getting access to its patents - would allow Micron to get into the market of supplying flash for low-end consumer devices like USB flash drives and video MP3 players. This way, Micron could get into SanDisk's home market without having to pay that company royalties.

"A deal (between SanDisk and Lexar) would weaken Micron on IP side and force Micron to pay some royalties to SanDisk, but it would also deny Micron the ability to go into the market where SanDisk and Lexar overlap," said Whittington. "It's a chess game. It's interesting that the stock is going up as opposed to down which is frequently the case in rival bids. The stock market views this as a positive rejoinder."

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based SanDisk could not be reached for comment by press time. Lexar was also unavailable for comment.

None of the analysts quoted in this story own shares of the companies they discussed, and their firms do not do investment banking business with those companies.

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.