Deals that shaped the analog, MEMS and sensors world in 2017
1) Tower gets into China
We were on top of this story at least six months before specialty foundry Tower Semiconductor Ltd. confirmed it. No sooner had we said that Tower wants to build China fab than we were getting reports that it was already engaged with a company called Tacoma (see Tower in two-fab project in China, say reports). Tower CEO Russell Ellwanger confirmed his company’s involvement in August (see Tower confirms Chinese fab project).
2) Renesas acquires Intersil
Japan’s Renesas agreed to buy Intersil for approximately $3 billion back in September 2016 (see Renesas agrees to pay $3.2 billion for Intersil). The deal was approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in February and the deal completed within a matter of days
3) Analog Devices acquires Linear Technology
Analog Devices was buys in 2017. It completed its $15 billion acquisition of Linear Technology in March (see Analog Devices completes acquisition of Linear Tech). Later in the year in made collaborative deals with IMEC (see IMEC, Analog Devices partner on IoT devices) and Siemens (see Analog Devices joins Siemens IoT system).
4) X-Fab stages Paris IPO
European specialty foundry X-Fab Silicon Foundries SE staged an IPO to float a minority of its stock on the Euronext market. The float was used to allow some shareholders to exit the company and to raise approximately €250 million to fund further acquisitions (see X-Fab plans Paris IPO).
5) TDK continues on acquisition trail
Japan’s TDK had agreed to buy fabless MEMS company InvenSense Corp. back in December 2016 (see TDK agrees to pay $1.3 billion for InvenSense) and the deal completed in May 2017. Meanwhile the TDK had moved to acquire analog and mixed-signal design specialist ICsense NV (see TDK to acquire Belgian sensor ASIC specialist).
Next: From Israel and Lidar to Californian MEMS
6) Players build stakes in Lidar startup Innoviz
In 2017 Innoviz Technologies Ltd. (Kfar Saba, Israel), was revealed to be one of the most popular startups pursuing Lidar as an offering for autonomous driving. It started in August when automotive supplier Delphi took a stake in the company (see Delphi takes stake in lidar startup Innoviz) followed by Magna (see Magna joins Delphi in backing Innoviz). Not wishing to miss out Samsung and ARM owner SoftBank chipped in an additional $8 million to bring the Series B to $73 million and the total investment in the 2016 startup to $82 million.
7) Lam buys MEMS modeller Coventor
In September chipmaking equipment vendor Lam Research Corp. (Fremont, Calif.) swooped to pick up MEMS and 3D design and simulation company Coventor Inc. (Cary, North Carolina) for an undisclosed sum of money (see Lam buys MEMS modeller Coventor).
8) Apple acquires quantum film developer InVisage
One of the more interesting startups of recent years – InVisage Technologies Inc. (Newark, Calif.) – has been acquired by Apple, according to reports. The reason for Apple’s interest in a potentially significant improvement in image sensing is obvious. (see Apple acquires image sensor pioneer InVisage).
9a) Dialog buys Silego
We’ve divided the story of Dialog Semiconductor plc in 2017 into two parts. On the upside Dialog swooped in October to buy Silego Technology Inc. for about $300 million (see Dialog buys configurable mixed-signal IC pioneer). Silego, founded in 2001, had been enjoying success with its configurable mixed-signal ICs (CMICs), which use non-volatile memory and switchable blocks to configure devices that integrate analog, digital logic, and power functions (see Silego hits 3 billion unit CMIC milestone). In 2017 Dialog also went on to acquire a piece of business from AMS, a company it had once considered merging with (see Dialog acquires LED backlight business from AMS).
9b) China builds stake in Dialog
However, while Dialog was looking after business its share price was suffering. This started back in April (see Dialog suffers on report of Apple in-sourcing) with concern that success with Apple left Dialog vulnerable to losing the business. The rumors resurfaced in November (see Dialog hit by Apple move to make own PMICs) with such ferocity that Dialog felt compelled to make a statement (see Dialog admits Apple could make PMICs).
And while the Dialog share price was low China’s Tsinghua University – a vehicle often used to implement state economic policy in the strategic semiconductor industry – moved in to buy the stock. Regulatory disclosure requirements revealed China had taken a 7.15 percent stake (see China builds stake in Dialog).
10) mCube moving on up
In November 2017 mCube, an eight-year-old private company, borrowed more equity funding to acquire Xsens Technologies BV (Enschede, The Netherlands) from On Semiconductor for $26 million (see mCube buys Xsens for system-level expertise). CEO Ben Lee explained some of the strategic thinking about the acquisition in an interview (see CEO interview: Taking mCube into platforms and data)