Sat, Feb 26, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Elpida scraps Taiwan merger plans

COOPERATION:The CEO of the Japanese firm said that while Taiwanese DRAM makers do not favor integration, they could still work together on different product lines

By Jason Tan  /  Staff reporter, with Bloomberg and CNA

Elpida president and CEO Yukio Sakamoto speaks during a listing ceremony for the company at the Taiwan Stock Exchange in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Maurice Tsai,. Bloomberg

Elpida Memory Inc, the world’s third-largest computer chipmaker, opened higher on its debut on the Taiwanese exchange yesterday, but closed off the day’s high after announcing it had scrapped plans to merge with Taiwanese chipmakers following opposition from the target companies.

The stock, in the form of Taiwan depositary receipts (TDR), closed up 1.88 percent at NT$21.70 from its issue price of NT$21.30. At one time, it reached as high as NT$22.15. Each TDR represents 0.05 of the common shares of the Tokyo-based company.

On the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Elpida shares jumped 6.38 percent to end at ¥1,216 each after its president and chief executive, Yukio Sakamoto, said on Thursday the company planned to hike chip prices next month.

The performance of other Taiwanese DRAM stocks was lackluster in comparison, with ProMOS Technologies Inc (茂德科技) closing unchanged at NT$2.05, Powerchip Technology Corp (力晶科技) rising 1.28 percent to NT$6.33 and Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技) inching up 0.3 percent to NT$15.85.

Elpida announced last year that it was buying stakes in Taiwanese chipmakers to consolidate and counter competition from market leader Samsung Electronics Co.

However, “most Taiwan DRAM companies’ presidents don’t want integration,” Sakamoto said yesterday in Taipei. “We’re better having many product lines with Taiwan DRAM companies.”

Elpida is still considering buying a stake in ProMOS, Sakamoto said.

The company also plans to work with Taiwanese companies to enter China, he said without elaborating.

“We 100 percent agree to jointly move into China, because if we move into China by ourselves, we’ve a 99.99 percent chance to fail,” Sakamoto said.

Elpida has a joint venture and outsourcing agreements with Powerchip, and the TDR issue would help deepen alliances in Taiwan, Sakamoto said.

“The market will view positively signs of ongoing DRAM industry consolidation, with the DRAM capacity of weaker players like Powerchip being progressively withdrawn from the supply picture,” Macquarie Research said in a report last month.

“Powerchip’s diminishing presence was already assumed by most observers and likely discounted into Elpida’s shares,” it said.

Elpida, however, will be a full beneficiary of the DRAM industry’s favorable outlook this year, thanks to catalysts such as demand from growing smartphone and tablet computer sales, it added.

Elpida raised NT$4.2 billion (US$141.2 million) in the TDR listing, which it said would be channeled into the development and production of cutting-edge 20 and 30-nanometer chips.

The TDR listing is the first by a Japanese company and the 24th by a foreign-registered company.

Taiwan Stock Exchange chairman Schive Chi (薛琦) said yesterday he would visit Japan next month to promote TDR listing by more Japanese firms.

Stock exchange statistics show that 47 local companies are planning to launch initial public offerings in Taiwan this year, while 15 to 20 foreign companies are expected to list their shares on the main board.

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