By Rick Carew and P.R. Venkat
China's ambitions to gain influence in the global semiconductor industry through deal-making is taking it to Singapore.
Jiangsu Changjiang Electronics Technology Co. has made a $780 million offer to buy its Singapore rival, STATS ChipPAC Ltd., both companies said in a filing Thursday.
The deal is the biggest Chinese acquisition in the semiconductor space since private-equity firm Hua Capital Management's $1.7 billion acquisition of OmniVision Technologies Inc. in August, according to Dealogic. It is also the latest in China's drive to build up its edge in the chips that go into everything from smartphones to cars.
Jiangsu Changjiang and STATS ChipPAC, which is majority owned by Singapore state investment firm Temasek Pte, have entered into an exclusive agreement until Nov. 30 and will work toward a "definitive agreement," the two chip testers and packagers said in their filing to the Singapore Exchange Thursday. By buying STATS ChipPAC, which is worth $1.8 billion if debt is included, according to people with knowledge of the situation, Shanghai-listed Jiangsu Changjiang gets access to one of the world's top companies in its field.
Jiangsu Changjiang's market cap is also around $1.8 billion, while STATS ChipPAC ended trade with a market value of $996 million Thursday.
The deal is the latest to showcase China's bid to build its domestic companies' technology prowess and bulk up its presence in the $325 billion global semiconductor industry.
China has become a hub for global production of smartphones and other electronics, but has lagged behind in semiconductors, where companies like Intel Corp., Samsung, and Qualcomm Inc. are key players. The government, however, is trying to change that and has been actively been giving financial support for the homegrown semiconductor industry as well as announcing plans to spend almost $5 billion on a fund to support the microchip industry.
Through STATS ChipPAC, Jiangsu Changjiang gets a global player in the chip testing and packaging industry.
STATS ChipPAC is the world's No. 4 chip-packaging and testing company by market share after Taiwan's Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Group, U.S.-based Amkor Technology and Taiwan-based Siliconware Precision Industries Co., and has manufacturing plants across Asia, including China, South Korea and Malaysia. The Singapore firm, whose shares soared 76% after it disclosed approaches made to it early in the year, also has offices in U.S. and Europe.
Founded in 1972 and based in China's eastern coastal province of Jiangsu, Jiangsu Changjiang says on its website that it is the country's largest semiconductor packaging service provider, offering semiconductor assembly and testing. The company had net profit of 11.1 million yuan ($1.8 million) in 2013, up 6.8% from 2012, according to S&P Capital IQ, and has five manufacturing facilities in Jiangsu and Anhui provinces. Its revenue rose 15% to 5.1 billion yuan.
Temasek plans to tender its holding in STATS ChipPAC company to the Chinese buyer under the exclusivity arrangement, according to one person.
The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics, an industry nonprofit, forecasts that the industry will grow by 6.5% this year to reach $325 billion. The group says that demand is driven by smartphones, tablets, and the expansion of computing systems in automobiles.
Meanwhile, China's homegrown chip industry continues to grow, with domestic players like Fuzhou Rockchip Electronics Co. and Allwinner Technology Co. increasing their presence by supplying chips used in low-end smartphones and tablets.
Citigroup Inc. is advising STATS ChipPAC on the sale. The U.S. investment bank has handled a number of mandates for Singapore's Temasek in the technology industry. Deutsche Bank AG and China International Capital Corp. are advising Jiangsu Changjiang Electronics.
Prudence Ho and Juro Osawa contributed to this article.
Write to Rick Carew at email@example.com and P.R. Venkat at firstname.lastname@example.org