China's Tsinghua to buy 15 percent of Western Digital for $3.78 billion

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 30, 2015 7:46 AM

By Ankit Ajmera

(Reuters) - A unit of Tsinghua Holdings Co Ltd will buy a 15 percent stake in U.S. data storage company Western Digital Corp <WDC.O>, the latest push by the Chinese state-backed company to access U.S. technology.

A subsidiary of Unisplendour Corp Ltd <000938.SZ>, which is owned by Tsinghua [TSHUAA.UL], will invest $3.78 billion in Western Digital, the companies said on Wednesday.

Unisplendour will buy Western Digital's new shares at $92.50 each, a premium of about 33 percent to the stock's Tuesday close, and get the right to nominate one representative to the U.S. company's board.

Shares of Western Digital, whose revenue has fallen in seven of the past nine quarters, rose about 14 percent to $78.70 in premarket trading.

U.S. technology companies have struggled to win customers in China after former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed cyberspying involving U.S. firms. Many companies are now seeking local partners in China or looking to sell assets to Chinese buyers.

Tsinghua's investment in Western Digital is subject to regulatory approvals.

Reuters reported in July that Tsinghua was interested in buying Micron Technology Inc <MU.O> for about $23 billion, but a deal has not materialized amid national security concerns.

Hewlett-Packard Co <HPQ.N> said in May it would sell a 51 percent stake in its China-based data-networking business to Tsinghua.

The Chinese company has agreed to a five-year lock-up on Western Digital shares, during which it would have voting restrictions. Unisplendour's board representative right will terminate if its ownership falls below 10 percent.

The deal is expected to close by the first quarter of 2016.

Wells Fargo Securities LLC is the financial adviser to Western Digital for the deal.

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey)