Hitachi is mulling options for its ailing hard disk drive business including bringing in a strategic investor to turn the business around, according to sources close to the matter.
Hitachi, Japan's biggest electronics conglomerate, has not posted a profit in its hard disk drive (HDD) business in any year since buying it from IBM for $2 billion in 2002.
Citing several financial industry sources, investment bank Merrill Lynch has sounded out private equity funds that may be interested in the unit, Reuters reported on Thusday.
The Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Bain Capital, and Silver Lake are among funds cited as possible investors, the sources said.
Hitachi may seek a fund to buy an equity stake in the hard disk drive business and then work with the fund to help revive it, one financial industry source said.
Hitachi today commented on articles that reported Hitachi decided on a plan to sell its Hard Disk Drive business.
"Hitachi is focusing on improving the performance of the Hard Disk Drive business, exploring every possibility. However the fact is that Hitachi has not decided to sell the Hard Disk Drive business," the Japanese company said today.
Hitachi's HDD unit lost $375 million in calendar 2006, a 60 percent bigger loss from the previous year, hurt by sliding prices for drives as laptop makers turn to flash memory drives for cooler and faster storage.
The Tokyo-based company, which holds a little less than 20 percent of the global HDD market, trails industry leaders Seagate Technology and Western Digital , which have been profitable despite aggressive notebook computer pricing.
Hitachi had promised its hard drives would be profitable this year.