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SK hynix mulls consortium for Arm acquisition

SK hynix co-Chief Executive Officer Park Jung-ho delivers a speech at an SK hynix shareholders’ meeting held Wednesday in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. (SK hynix)
SK hynix co-Chief Executive Officer Park Jung-ho delivers a speech at an SK hynix shareholders’ meeting held Wednesday in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. (SK hynix)
SK hynix, the world’s second-largest memory chip maker, is considering coinvesting in the acquisition of United Kingdom-based semiconductor design firm Arm by taking part in a consortium, its co-chief executive officer Park Jung-ho told reporters Wednesday.

“We are considering coinvesting in Arm with other companies,” Park said in a briefing. “Arm plays a very important role in the international semiconductor ecosystem, and the ecosystem will not allow a single entity to take full advantage of the benefit from the acquisition.”

Park’s remark came during a briefing after an SK hynix shareholder meeting Wednesday morning in its headquarters in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. Park also serves as chief of SK Square, an investment arm of Korea’s third-largest conglomerate SK Group by assets.

This echoes Park’s remark earlier in an SK Square shareholder meeting Tuesday that he would “head for Silicon Valley in as early as April” for Arm takeover talks. SK Square holds about a 20 percent stake in SK hynix.

Other than SK hynix, chip giant Intel in February also expressed an interest in taking part in a consortium to buy Arm. Intel Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger said the talks over the consortium have been underway even before SoftBank Group offered a sale of Arm shares to US chip design giant Nvidia.

The talks between SoftBank and Nvidia collapsed over Nvidia’s Arm acquisition in February. SoftBank immediately laid out a plan to take Arm public or find a consortium to buy Arm‘s stake by 2023.

Arm has been a fully-owned subsidiary of SoftBank since 2016. The company designs microprocessors for smartphones, tablets and digital TVs.

SK hynix has expanded its global footprint, supported by its appetite for acquisitions at home and overseas.

On Wednesday, the Fair Trade Commission, Korea’s antitrust body, approved SK hynix’s purchase of an entire stake in the domestic 8-inch wafer foundry manufacturer Key Foundry for 575.8 billion won ($475.7 million). The deal was announced in October.

Also, SK hynix is in the process of taking over parts of Intel’s memory chip operations. It closed the first phase of the transaction that cost SK hynix $7 billion in December to bring Intel’s solid-state drive business and part of NAND Flash manufacturing assets in China under its umbrella, through its California-based subsidiary Solidigm.

The second phase of acquisition from Intel will allow SK hynix to control the remaining Intel NAND Flash business, ranging from intellectual properties related to the manufacture and design of NAND flash wafers to the workforce. SK hynix aims to reach a final close of the deal for $2 billion by March 2025.

Prior to the deal, SK hynix has joined a consortium in the past. It joined a Bain Capital-led consortium to control Toshiba’s memory chip operation in 2018.

Meanwhile, SK hynix shareholders on Wednesday approved co-CEOs Noh Jong-won and Kwak Noh-jung as board members. Noh and Kwak were named as heads of the memory chip maker on Feb. 24.

(consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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