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(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) Fusion-io is a surging technology company, a leader in providing solid-state (chip-based) memory for servers in huge data centers. Here co-founders Rick White and David Flynn are photographed in front of the binary code that spells out Fushion-io in the company's Cottonwood Heights, Utah Monday, March 5, 2012. The co-founders are no longer with the company, which is being acquired by SanDisk for $1.1B.
SanDisk to acquire Utah-based Fusion-io for $1.1B
Technology » Cottonwood Heights company makes flash-based computer storage.
First Published Jun 16 2014 10:21 am • Last Updated Jun 17 2014 11:38 am

SanDisk Corp.’s $1.1 billion acquisition of Fusion-io should expand the marketplace for the Utah-based maker of data center computer storage products, SanDisk executives said Monday.

"We look forward to engaging in the Salt Lake City area with the Fusion-io teams in terms of growing SanDisk’s business," said President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra after his Milpitas, California, company announced the cash purchase of Cottonwood Heights-based Fusion-io.

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Mehrotra said Fusion-io’s operations would remain in Utah.

Founded in 2005, Fusion-io has about 300 employees in the state, 938 globally. It reported revenues of $432 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2013.

The maker of flash storage products — from thumb drives to data center technology — said it will make a tender offer for all outstanding shares of publicly traded Fusion-io for $11.25 a share.

Fusion-io’s shares closed Monday at $11.36 a share, up 2.08 points, or 22.4 percent, after the sale was announced.

Approved by directors of both companies, the deal is subject to approval by regulators. It is expected to close in the third quarter.

Fusion-io CEO Shane Robison called the sale a "compelling opportunity" for the company, its customers and shareholders.

"Fusion-io’s innovative hardware and software solutions will be augmented by SanDisk’s worldwide scale and vertical integration, enabling a combined company that can offer an even more compelling value proposition for customers and partners," Robison said.

Three of Fusion-io’s biggest customers are Facebook, Apple and Hewlett-Packard. But company shares have been on a downward trajectory, even as revenues grew from $192 million in fiscal 2011 to $359.3 million in 2012 and then $432.4 million last year.

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Since 2009, it has suffered net losses every year except 2011. In its 2013 fiscal year, the company had a net loss of $38.2 million, according to regulatory filings.

Fusion-io’s shares traded at a height of $39.60 in November of 2011, about five months after going public. They have declined steadily ever since.

In May of 2013, cofounder David Flynn resigned and was replaced as CEO by Robison, a former HP executive. The other cofounder, Rick White, resigned as chief marketing officer.

SanDisk reported $6.1 billion in revenue last year, with $1 billion in net income. It had 5,459 full-time employees at the end of last year.

On Monday, SanDisk executives praised their company’s vertical integration as part of the reason they expect Fusion-io to expand in its market after SanDisk completes the purchase. That integration includes getting into flash chip manufacturing. Fusion-io traditionally bought many of its chips from IM Flash Technologies of Lehi.

"We will continue to work with the suppliers of flash to Fusion-io," said Sumit Sadana, SunDisk executive vice president and chief strategy officer, "while transitioning parts of Fusion-io’s business to the SanDisk memory."

By using Fusion-io products, large data centers can greatly accelerate their computing operations. Flash memory can be many times faster than the spinning disks that have been the mainstay of data storage for years.


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