Crown Prince's visit fuels rumour of GloFo sale

February 26, 2019 //By Peter Clarke
Crown Prince's visit fuels rumour of GloFo sale
A visit to the headquarters of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. in South Korea by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, has added to the speculation that Abu Dhabi may be trying to sell off chip foundry Globalfoundries.

The Crown Prince toured Samsung's chip-making plant and exhibition rooms in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi province on Tuesday February 26, the company said.

Globalfoundries is wholly owned by Mubadala, the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi, and the speculation is that Globalfoundries is being pitched to some combination of Samsung and SK Hynix because a sale to China's Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (Shanghai, China) would not be acceptable in the US.

With access to Chinese government funds SMIC could no doubt afford Globalfoundries and has a desire to accelerate its introduction of 14nm FinFET technology and catch up with the likes of Samsung and TSMC. At the same time is not clear Samsung or SK Hynix would find Globalfoundries and its multi-continental collection of fabs that attractive.

Globalfoundries was formed in 2009 when Mubadala bought out the manufacturing operation of processor chip company Advanced Micro Devices. Chartered Semiconductor of Singapore was added to Globalfoundries in 2010 and investment budgets of the order of $10 billion to $15 billion were much quoted in those early years. However, ambitious comments came to be replaced by the view that Globalfoundries would need to pay its way in the middle of the decade and the start of speculation about a sell off or even break-up of the company as Mubadala and Abu Dhabi seemed to lose their strategic interest in semiconductors.

Globalfoundries changed its technology roadmap significantly after it appointed Tom Caulfield as CEO in 2018 to replace Sanjay Jha. Caulfield took the decision to pull back from the expense of leading-edge 7nm FinFET development (see GloFo rethinks its future, drops 7nm FinFET).

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