Comment: GloFo gets warm words, but for how long?

March 01, 2019 // By Peter Clarke
Comment: GloFo gets warm words, but for how long?
The latest statement from Mubadala, that wholly-owned subsidiary Globalfoundries is "integral" to its portfolio, will not put an end to speculation about the eventual fate of the US headquartered foundry.

One could even argue that the comment is similar to the "full support" meme that could indicate that the announcement of a sale – or a joint-venture to dilute Mubadala's holding – may be just weeks or months away.

For several weeks there has been speculation that Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Corp. is ready to end or curtail its decade-long, multi-billion-dollar investment in semiconductor manufacturing. And it is not the first time the idea has surfaced. There were reports of an approach from China and other discussions over the future of Globalfoundries in 2015 (see Report: Abu Dhabi holding talks over GloFo sale).

The arguments in favour of a sell off or break up of Globalfoundries are as strong today as they were then, and anything short of a flat denial will do little to stem the speculation. One thing that could delay or hinder a sale is the complexity of Globalfoundries own portfolio of fabs and technologies, and the geopolitics that might prevent a Chinese bidder from being able to engage as a purchaser.

What Mubadala's CEO did provide on a visit to Globalfoundries' Woodlands facility in Singapore this week were warm words that apply to the present but say nothing about the wealth fund's intentions for Globalfoundries going forward (see Mubadala says GloFo is "integral" to portfolio). One could even argue those warm words served to enhance the appeal of Globalfoundries to potential buyers or partners.

I remember once being told to watch out when a company redecorates its headquarters' entrance lobby because it could indicate the business is being put up for sale. The paint job would be the company's way of seeking to enhance the perceived value of the business for executives that might visit for negotiations.

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