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Micron nearing deal to purchase Qimonda JV stake

Posted: 05 Aug 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:manufacturing venture  DRAM venture  IM Flash  memory 

According to an analyst, Micron Technology Inc.'s long-awaited move to buy Qimonda AG's stake in Inotera Memories Inc. could be near.

Rumors are running rampant about Micron's intentions. Taiwan's Nanya Technology Corp. and Germany's Qimonda have a joint DRAM manufacturing venture in Taiwan called Inotera. That venture appears to be in limbo.

Micron recently entered into a separate R&D and DRAM venture with Taiwanese memory rival Nanya, which, turn, raises questions about the Qimonda-Nanya alliance.

That venture, MeiYa Technology Corp., is DRAM joint venture between Micron and Nanya. It appears Micron will also take over the Inotera venture with Nanya.

''Our checks continue to suggest that some form of deal that will allow Micron to take Qimonda's place in the Inotera manufacturing joint venture with Nanya is close to being consummated,'' said Daniel Berenbaum, an analyst with SG Cowen Securities Inc., in a report.

''Even if Micron has to purchase Qimonda's shares directly at a big premium to market price, it would allow a capex cut, lower unit costs, increase DRAM bit growth, and provide a royalty revenue stream,'' he said.

Next week, Micron is expected to host its analysts day. According to Berenbaum, Micron is expected to address the following issues:

*Industry supply/demand dynamics for memory. ''We expect both NAND and DRAM to remain in oversupply through H109,'' he said.

*The long-awaited CMOS image sensor spinoff, ''which may finally be close to getting done,'' he said. The Boise, Idaho, chipmaker recently set the stage for a possible spinout of its CMOS image sensor business by transforming its sensor business unit into an independent division. That entity, Aptina Imaging, will be free to seek manufacturing alliances with outside foundries. The captive business unit had relied solely on Micron for its manufacturing needs.

*Options and ramp plans for the IM Flash NAND JV with Intel. IM Flash is a joint NAND production venture between Micron and Intel. ''Intel appears disappointed with profitability of JV and may be looking to exit or reduce its stake,'' he said.

Rumors are running rampant that Seagate Technology may buy Intel's stake in IM Flash. On one hand, Intel's margins are taking a hit due to the NAND downturn.

But Intel and Micron have recently leapfrogged the competition and claimed the technical lead in the NAND flash memory market. Reportedly moving ahead of Toshiba, Samsung and others in the process race, the Intel-Micron duo have introduced the industry's first sub-40nm NAND flash device, by rolling out 34nm, 32Gbit multi-level cell chip. Previously, the leading-edge NAND device from Intel and Micron was a 50nm part.

Separately, the company also announced today the appointment of Mark Adams to the position of vice president of worldwide sales. Adams, formerly Micron's VP of Digital Media, joined Micron in 2006 with the company's acquisition of Lexar Media Inc. Adams replaces Mike Sadler, who has accepted a new role in the office of the president for MeiYa.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times





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