Shares of DRAM chipmaker Inotera Memories Inc (華亞科技) rocketed 9.93 percent amid speculation that its parent company, Micron Technology Inc, has become a target of China’s state-owned Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd (清華紫光) in a buyout bid worth US$23 billion.
Shares in Inotera, which is 33 percent owned by Micron, surged to NT$22.7 yesterday, with trading volume hitting a more than two-year high at 235.79 million shares.
Inotera yesterday said it does not comment on “market rumors.”
Tsinghua Unigroup, China’s largest chip design company, intends to pay US$21 a share for Micron, a 19.3 percent premium over its closing price of US$17.61 on the NASDAQ on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, citing an anonymous source.
The deal would be the biggest overseas acquisition by a Chinese firm if it is struck and approved by the related government agencies. Micron is the world’s third-largest DRAM chipmaker — with a market share last year of 25.1 percent — after Samsung Electronics Co and SK Hynix Co, while the company ranked No. 4 in the global NAND flash market, according to market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技).
“The news will only give a short-term boost to local stocks,” said Jerry Peng (彭茂榮), a semiconductor analyst with the Industrial Technology Research Institute (工研院). “As local DRAM chipmakers still heavily rely on Micron to license advanced technologies, the deal, if it goes through, could increase uncertainty about their partnerships.”
Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技) shares soared 8.08 percent to NT$40.8 yesterday. Nanya, which holds a 26 percent stake in Inotera, licenses 20-nanometer technology from Micron.
TrendForce said yesterday that while Tsinghua Unigroup plans to make an offer to acquire Micron, the talks are still in the preliminary stages.
The bid indicates that China has an ambition to develop its own DRAM industry. Government-led Summitview Capital (武岳峰資本) in March acquired US chip designer Integrated Silicon Solution Inc for US$640 million.
Tsinghua Unigroup’s planned bid for Micron would greatly boost China’s in-house memory manufacturing, as the US company generated US$6.72 billion, or 41.1 percent of its revenue, from China last year, Digitimes Research said in a statement yesterday.
TrendForce said it “will not be easy for Tsinghua Unigroup to clinch the deal in the short term, as it will need approval from Micron’s board of directors and its shareholders to sell the company to an overseas buyer.”
“Besides, the US government restricts exports of certain technologies that can jeopardize national security... The semiconductor industry is one of those restricted items,” TrendForce said in a separate statement.
After US chip giant Intel Corp last year invested US$1.5 billion in Tsinghua Ungroup for a 20 percent stake, a proposed Micron acquisition would allow the Chinese chip designer to obtain DRAM and NAND flash memory technologies, which would put the US government on high alert, TrendForce said.
Intel develops NAND flash memory technologies with Micron.
It would also be tough for Micron to get the Taiwanese regulator to give the deal the green light, as the semiconductor industry is a restricted investment item, Peng said.
“We have to be sure that Micron does not have a controlling interest in Inotera before giving the go-ahead to an acquisition,” an official from the Investment Commission said by telephone.
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