Chip makers go mobileF

A fresh wave of mergers and acquisitions reflects the semiconductor sector's determination to pull itself out of the downward spin by building expertise in wireless technologies – billed as the next high-growth sector. Several publicly listed semiconductor suppliers have negotiated innovative deals and co-operation agreements with each other that are seemingly designed to share both know-how and risk.

Semiconductor maker STMicroelectronics (STM) picked up the microelectronics division of French telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel to boost its research and development (R&D) expertise in the field of high-speed wireless and wireline chipsets. The French-Italian group paid just €390 million in cash for a division with turnover of €350 million, reflecting a continued slump in valuations. As part of the agreement, Alcatel and STM will jointly develop digital subscriber line (DSL) chipsets, extending an existing agreement to work together on designing chipsets for mobile phones.

Within a day of announcing the deal, STM revealed that it would sell the mixed signal business of Alcatel Microelectronics to AMI Semiconductor, a privately owned maker of integrated circuits. AMI picked up two fabrication facilities in Belgium and 1,050 employees. The Idaho-based company will provide manufacturing services for STM.

US semiconductor group Texas Instruments (TI) bought Germany's Condat to beef up its mobile phone chip know-how. TI gains two additional wireless software R&D centres in Europe and half of Condat's 380 employees for €105.7 million.

In another transatlantic deal, Ireland's chip designer Parthus agreed to a merger with the intellectual property licensing business of DSP, a US digital signal processing company. The new company, called ParthusCeva, will focus design efforts on technologies for voice over Internet protocol and the wireless technologies Bluetooth and 3G. The combined group says it has $80 million (€89.8m) in cash, 330 employees dedicated to R&D, and nine out of the top ten semiconductor companies as customers.


Key majority takeovers in March/April 2002
Buyer What it does Country Target What it does Country Price €
Access Commerce Partner relation mgmt s/w France Tekora Content management s/w France n/a Online advertising svcs US Dayrates Internet direct marketing Norway n/a
Anite Group IT svcs &s/w provider UK Ideal Tech Servs S/w &svcs to local govts UK 8.1m
BrainLAB Surgical s/w &h/w Germany Cedara Software Image-guided surgery bus Canada n/a
DSP* Digital signal processing US Parthus Chip designer Ireland 68.2m
Elektrobit Mobile comms tech Finland JOT Automation Automation tech Finland 70.0m
Empire Interactive Computer games publisher UK eJay Entertainment Music entertainment s/w Germany 200.0m
Faros Driving simulation techs France Simulators Syts Intl Drive simulation s/w &h/w US n/a
Fimatex Online finance/stock info France Finance Net Online finance/stock info France 44.0m
GateSpace Managed svcs systems Sweden Ericsson Bus. E-services unit of Ericsson Sweden n/a
ingenta Online research distribution UK HERON E-learning packs UK n/a
Innovation Group IT svcs provider UK Midas IT Services Provider of managed svcs UK 6.6m
Kronos Labour mgmt s/w Canada Data Collection Systs Time &attendance s/w UK n/a
MKS Instruments Chip manufacturing tech US Tenta Technology Chipmaking proc control sys Israel n/a
NETikos Group Diversified telecom group Italy Entirem Mobile financial s/w Finland n/a
Retail Decisions On-line retailer svcs UK Paymentplus Payment processing s/w US 2.6m
Reuters Group Info, news &tech gp UK Easetech Fin Systs Transaction server s/w US 10.2m
S1 Financial svcs s/w US Point Info Systs CRM s/w Ireland 14.9m
SCM Microsystems Dig content access s/w US Towitoko Smart card readers Germany 5.7m
Solution 6 Holdings S/w for prof svcs orgs Australia Keystone Solutions S/w for prof svcs orgs UK 21.9m
STMicroelectronics Semiconductor maker Italy Alcatel Microelects Semiconductor maker France 390.0m
Texas Instruments Semiconductor tech US Condat Digital wireless tech Germany 105.7m
TietoEnator IT service provider Sweden ABB Energy Info Sys Customer info &bill sys unit Neth n/a
T-Systems Intl IT svcs provider Germany Primix Sweden IT svcs Sweden n/a
Warthog Computer games developer UK 42-Bit Computer games developer Sweden 0.68m
WM-data IT service provider Sweden Icon Medialab Intl Norwegian unit of consult Norway n/a
Wolters Kluwer Publishing &tech gp Neth Artel Software House Workflow tools for consults Italy n/a
All currencies converted to euros at current exchange rates.
Data from Infoconomist‘s daily Deal Watch.
*DSP will spin off its chip business to form ParthusCeva

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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