Hitachi HDD maker to invest another B15.5bn

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST), the world's third largest hard-disk drive manufacturer, is preparing to invest 15.53 billion baht in Thailand where the data-storage industry aims for continuous annual export growth of 10-15%.

The latest investment from HGST has been approved by the Board of Investment (BoI) for the production of HDD and components including head gimbal assembly (HGA) at its plant in Prachin Buri, according to the BoI.

HGST is among the world's top four HDD players operating in Thailand. With the presence of Seagate Technology, Western Digital (WD) and Toshiba Storage Devices, the kingdom accounts for 90% of HDD production worldwide.

The sector, which employs 200,000 people, expects record-high exports of 500 billion baht this year, an increase of 15% over 2009.

Apinunt Thanachayanont, dean of Lad Krabang University's College of Data Storage Innovation, said the industry projected an annual growth rate of 10-15% this year onward.
Apart from HGST, Seagate and WD are also planning to expand the production in Thailand, he said.

Moreover, the world's top two HDD makers have been in the process of moving their research and development (R&D) operations to Thailand.

"To support the industry's dynamic growth, the government is recommended to help develop the required human resources including PhD personnel in the area, and other skilled labour."
According to the international research firm IDC, the global HDD industry is expected to have average annual revenue growth of 9% from 2009 to 2012 to close to 800 million units valued at $40 billion.

HGST in the second quarter recorded 36% year-on-year growth in revenue to $1.5 billion.

Sales totalled $3 billion in the first six months of this year compared with $4.8 billion in all of 2009.

Apart from HGST's project, other major investments in Thailand in the first half included Magnecomp Precision Technology's 3.6-billion-baht HDD suspension venture, a 2.9-billion-baht investment by Minebea for HDD