Unigroup in reported $23b bid for Micron

Updated: 2015-07-15 11:20

By Jack Freifelder in New York and Gao Yuan in Beijing(China Daily USA)

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Unigroup in reported $23b bid for Micron

The stand of Unisplendour Corp Ltd, a listed company under Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd, at an international technology expo in Beijing. Unigroup is planning to buy US chipmaker Micron Technology Inc to lift its top-tier global ranking. Provided to China Daily

Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd, a Chinese state-backed technology conglomerate, is looking to buy US chipmaker Micron Technology Inc for $23 billion.

If approved, it would be the largest Chinese takeover of a US company to date. But many analysts believe the plan would face steep regulatory hurdles on both sides.

Tsinghua Unigroup is prepared to bid $21 per share for Micron, which closed up $2, to $19.61 on Tuesday. The offer could come as early as Wednesday, a person close to Tsinghua told Reuters.

Micron spokesman Dan Francisco e-mailed China Daily that the company "does not comment on rumor or speculation". Unigroup representatives declined to comment.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the story on Tuesday, citing sources.

Gene Cao, a senior analyst at consultancy Forrester Research Inc, said Unigroup would greatly benefit from the takeover.

"Unigroup is planning the acquisition because Micron will enhance its product lines of embedded chipsets and related hardware, as well as flash storage and memory computing," Cao said.

Micron, based in Boise, Idaho, also could boost Unigroup's smart-manufacturing capability, he said, so that the Chinese company will be better positioned in the next-generation chip manufacturing and Internet of Things segments.

Vincent Gu, a Shanghai-based analyst at iSupply, told Reuters that the chances of the US government approving the deal between Micron and Tsinghua Unigroup would be "next to zero", given the political hurdles.

"China should stay firmly grounded and persevere with researching the technology itself," he said.

Gu Wenjun, chief analyst at iCwise, a Shanghai-based consulting company, told Bloomberg News: "There is only a small possibility US regulators will approve this deal because it has a very strict review over offers from foreign capital, especially China." But "this is the right move for Tsinghua because Micron has memory chip technology, which is very hard to develop."

Tsinghua Unigroup was founded in 1988 at China's Tsinghua University, which is the alma mater of Chinese President Xi Jinping and other senior officials.

The company became China's largest chip-design firm after it acquired two of the country's largest mobile-chip makers, Spreadtrum Communications and RDA Microelectronics, in 2013.

Micron, which was founded in 1978, has been a key player in the semiconductor industry for more than three decades.

The company makes silicon-to-semiconductor products, including both dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips and NAND memory chips that allow storage of music, pictures and other data on cameras, smartphones and other mobiles devices. Micron also specializes in other semiconductor systems.

As the only US-based DRAM manufacturer, any foreign takeover of Micron likely would have to pass a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

If completed, the takeover will be the biggest in Chinese history, topping oil giant CNOOC Ltd's $15.1 billion takeover of Canadian oil and gas producer Nexen Inc in early 2013.

The deal also would further Beijing's goal of making the country more self-sufficient in technology.

Contact the writers at jackfreifelder@chinadailyusa.com and gaoyuan@chinadaily.com.cn