by CIO Staff

Fairchild, Himax Buy Taiwanese Chip Makers

Feb 02, 20072 mins
Computers and Peripherals

Fairchild Semiconductor and Himax Technologies both completed steps this week that finalize, or nearly finish, their bids to buy Taiwanese chip makers.

Fairchild received regulatory approval from the Taiwan government to buy System General, which specializes in chips that manage power in digital devices. A Fairchild subsidiary will now be allowed to remit US$197.2 million into Taiwan to complete the purchase, according to a report by the Taiwan Investment Commission.

Fairchild expects the deal to be completed by the end of the second quarter of this year.

Himax, a Taiwanese maker of chips for liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, announced Thursday that it closed its acquisition of rival Wisepal Technologies in an all-stock deal valued at about US$50 million. The purchase gives Himax a better position in the small-to-midsize display market, the company said.

The transactions highlight the large number of chip deals made over the past year, and follows closely on the heels of a high-profile US$5.5 billion offer made for the world’s largest chip assembly company, Taiwan’s Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE), in November.

The biggest chip deals have been made in the United States and Europe. Last year, a group of private equity investors agreed to pay $17.6 billion for Freescale Semiconductor, while Koninklijke Philips Electronics sold a majority stake in its chip unit to another group for about US$10.6 billion.

Fairchild, of South Portland, Maine, was born from the ideas and investments of several chip titans, including Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, both later of Intel fame, and was incorporated in 1957. System General, of Taipei, opened in 1983, focusing on power management chips from the start.

Fairchild cited System General’s strong power products and sales in China and Taiwan as key reasons for its interest in the company.

Himax will gain a few new large customers as part of its deal. Wisepal supplies LCD chips to Taiwan’s Compal Electronics, the world’s second-largest contract laptop manufacturer, as well as handset maker Compal Communications and handset display maker TPO Displays.

Compal Electronics and TPO Displays were the two largest shareholders in Wisepal prior to the acquisition by Himax.

-Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service (Taipei Bureau)

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