Asus, the top motherboard maker ahead of Gigabyte, may be looking to further strengthen its position by acquiring ASRock, the third largest player in the mobo business. It's an interesting development, not just because it would combine the world's first and third largest motherboard entities, but because it would be the second time Asus has owned ASRock. A quick history lesson is in order here.
In 2002, Asus created the ASRock brand to sell entry-level motherboards and to target the commodity OEM market, going up against the likes of ECS and Foxconn. It gave Asus a foothold into the budget motherboard market without damaging its enthusiast brand recognition.
ASRock is now owned by Pegatron, which itself was a subsidiary of Asus incorporated in 2007. Pegatron has since been spun off and is no longer connected to Asus, so now the ASRock brand Asus created is a direct competitor. Over the years, ASRock has grown from an entry-level player to a spunky builder that makes high-end boards that have been used to break overclocking records.
According to Charlie Demerjian at SemiAccurate, Asus just made a bid for ASRock's motherboard division. Nothing is yet final, but reportedly, Pegatron is agreeable to the terms, so unless Demerjian's info is totally bogus, this is a deal that will likely go through.
If it does, that would leave Asus/ASRock and Gigabyte as the two dominate top-tier motherboard makers, followed by MSI and ECS, which don't ship anywhere near the same volume as the other two.