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Is time running out on Qimonda?

Posted: 14 May 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DRAM  insolvency  intellectual property  DRAM market shakeout 

The chances that insolvency administrator Michael Jaffé will find an investor for bankrupt DRAM chip manufacturer Qimonda are dwindling. During the first quarter, Qimonda's sales have been halved, says market watcher DRAMeXchange.

Past week, Michel Jaffé informed the remaining staff in Dresden and Munich about the current situation. While he declines to elaborate on the content of the meetings, participants report that the situation has failed to improve even after Saxon minister president Stanislaw Tillich discussed the issue with Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin who at that opportunity promised to evaluate the interest of Russian investors. "

Apparently, the Russian card hitherto did not win the trick. "According to what we have heard from Mr. Jaffé, no investor has showed substantial interest in Qimonda," a participant of the meeting said. Similarly, Chinese investors that were in talks earlier also have failed to put anything tangible onto the table. Now the insolvency administrator has asked them to substantiate their interest by end of May at latest. Otherwise, he will be forced to continue with the insolvency proceedings, he said according to the source. "Which means that liquidation becomes more and more the likely outcome."

Hoping for an investor for the entire company, the insolvency administrator so far had kept the Qimonda infrastructure together, but this strategy becomes increasingly difficult to support. Currently the fab is in stand-by mode which however requires significant financial resources. At the staff meetings, Mr. Jaffé emphasised that the search for an investor continues for a limited time. According to sources familiar with the proceedings, so far substantial interests has not been expressed in Qimonda as a hole but only in parts of the company, such as intellectual property or specific parts of the equipment. The final time-out can be expected by end of May. Then, it can be expected that the creditors want to see money either way, a person familiar with the proceedings said.

In the meantime, the DRAM market shakeout has further taken shape. According to market researcher DRAMeXchange, Korean vendors Samsung and Hynix in Q1/09 have expanded their market share in the global own brand DRAM market to 50.1 per cent from 46.3 per cent in Q4/08. At the same time, Qimonda's market share in this segment declined from 8.3 to 4.8 per cent. Besides Qimonda as the only German DRAM vendor all other regions also lost market share to Korea.

In DRAM OEM markets, the development was somewhat different: Also in this market segment, Korean vendors could fortify their market share, but the losers here were mainly Taiwanese vendors. As a consequence of several production relocations between Asian players, Qimonda in this market segment ironically increased its share in Q1 to 4.8 per cent from 4.0 per cent—definitively for the last time since the company ceased production by end of March. +

-EE Times Europe

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