Report claims Chinese chip maker bids $23B for Micron

If a deal did go through, it would be the largest Chinese takeover of any foreign company

3D NAND flash chip

Gum-stick sized M2 SSD with Intel's and Micron's 3D NAND flash chip.

Credit: Intel

China's largest state-owned computer chip design firm, Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. has offered $23 billion to buy Micron Technology, one of the largest U.S. memory makers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

If Micron accepts, the deal would be the biggest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company on record.

Micron, however, denied the reports.

"While Micron does not comment on rumors or speculation, we can confirm that we have not received an offer," said Dan Francisco, Micron's media relations director.

Citing people "familiar with the matter," The Wall Street Journal stated that Tsinghua Unigroup has offered $21 a share for Micron, which is a 19.3% premium over its closing price yesterday.

According to industry analysts, rumors of a potential takeover have been around for about a month now.

"This is the first credible news I've heard," said Gregory Wong, an analyst with research firm Forward Insights. "It's been well known that China is trying to get into the memory industry and with none of the major memory players willing to license or transfer technology, it would've taken them years to develop the technology indigenously."

By acquiring Micron, Tsinghua Unigroup would immediately become a major player and acquire leading-edge technology and intellectual property for DRAM and NAND flash at the same time, Wong said.

Wong doesn't believe a buyout would affect the competitive dynamics of DRAM and NAND markets in the short term.

"Tsinghua Unigroup has to realize that they aren't just paying $23 billion. They'll have to invest in the technology and fab capacity to ensure the gap with Samsung doesn't widen," Wong said.

Based in Boise, Idaho, Micron is the second largest producer of DRAM, with about 25% to 30% of the market share. Samsung leads the market in DRAM production.

South Korea-based Samsung is the largest producer of NAND memory, followed by Toshiba and SanDisk. Micron and SK Hynix are in a virtual tie for fourth place.

Since 2008, Micron has been partnered with Intel in developing flash memory products. A buyout of Micron could potentially affect that relationship.

If any deal were to develop between the Chinese chip maker and Micron, one challenge would be attaining U.S. government approval for the transfer of "sensitive technology" to China, according to Wong.

Additionally, if Tsinghua were to take over Micron, it would have to relinquish the company's holdings in chip makers Rexchip and Inotera, according to Taiwan regulations, Wong said.

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