Analog foundry put up for sale

November 18, 2013 // By Peter Clarke
South Korean Dongbu Group is offering to sell analog and mixed-signal foundry Dongbu HiTek Co. Ltd. as part of a plan to avert a financial crisis at the group, according to local reports.

Dongbu Group plans to sell 3-trillion-won (about US$2.8 billion) in assets, including Dongbu HiTek and Dongbu Metal Co. Ltd., by 2015 in order to reduce the group debt burden which stands at around 6.3 trillion won (about $6 billion), reports said.

Dongbu has companies covering agriculture, steel, logistics and insurance but the electronics business has been a pet project of the group's founder and chairman Kim Junki. The company is a broad-based specialty foundry with capabilities in analog, mixed-signal, image sensors, high-voltage and non-volatile memory.

Dongbu HiTek was ranked the ninth largest foundry in the world in 2012 with annual sales of $540 million, according to market research company IC Insights. This put the company just behind Tower Semicondutor Ltd. but further behind Chinese rivals Hua Hong Grace and SMIC which had annual sales of $940 million and $1.68 billion, respectively. It is also puts Dongbu HiTek ahead of European rival X-Fab Silicon Foundries AG

However, the progress of Dongbu HiTek has been difficult. The semiconductor company did not make a profit for the 15 years from its inception until 2012, despite 2 trillion won (about $1.9 billion) of investment, reports said. Dongbu HiTek has broken through into profit under Chang-Sik Choi, who became its president and CEO a year and a half ago.

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