Japanese chipmaker Kioxia Holdings and its U.S. peer Western Digital are in detailed talks about merging their operations, a move that could create a new memory chip company with a global share on par with its leading rivals, people familiar with the matter said Friday.

The two companies are considering setting up a joint venture to integrate their production and sales operations, and Kioxia may hold the larger stake in the new company, the sources said.

Their talks on business integration come as their earnings are under pressure due to a plunge in demand for NAND flash memory chips caused by slumping smartphone sales in the post-pandemic period. They already jointly operate plants in Iwate and Mie prefectures.