Fusion-io prices its IPO at $19 per share

The flash storage company would be worth about $1.5 billion at that price

Flash storage company Fusion-io, which counts Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak as its chief scientist, has priced its initial public offering (IPO) at US$19 per share, valuing the company at about $1.5 billion.

Fusion-io makes flash storage for servers that comes on a PCI Express expansion card, offering faster throughput than conventional SSDs (solid-state drives), which use SATA (Serial ATA) interfaces like those on hard disk drives. Though flash is more expensive than hard disks, enterprises are beginning to adopt it for fast access to frequently used data.

The company, in Salt Lake City, was founded in 2007 and filed for its IPO in March.

On Thursday, a total of about 12.3 million shares of Fusion-io will go on sale on the New York Stock Exchange, where the company's ticker symbol will be FIO. Of those, about 1.5 million will be offered by existing shareholders. Counting shares that the underwriters have an option to buy, the offering should put approximately $240 million in the company's hands. Fusion-io has a total of 77.8 million shares outstanding, making the whole company worth 1.5 billion at the $19-per-share price.

The final price for Fusion-io was over the company's earlier estimate of between $16 and $18.

IPO prices have returned to the spotlight and to controversy lately, after online business networking site LinkedIn went public on May 19 at $45 and instantly soared past $100 per share. Some observers said the starting price may have been deliberately set low to create a profit for the merchant banks that underwrote the offering.

Wozniak, who founded Apple along with Steve Jobs in the 1970s, joined Fusion-io in 2009.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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