6) ARM gives up control in China
In May reports were starting to emerge that a joint venture formed by intellectual property licensor ARM and local China interests would be used to control ARM's operations on the mainland. But what was most intriguing at the time was the possibility that ARM would have a minority stake in this joint venture (see Report: Control of ARM's China business to pass to JV).
In June ARM's owner SoftBank Group Corp., confirmed that it had agreed to sell a majority stake in ARM's Chinese trading subsidiary to unnamed investors although the list was thought to include China Investment Corp:, Silk Road Fund, Singapore's Temasek Holdings, ARM, Hopu Investment Management and Shum Yip Group.
Softbank said 51 percent of the equity interest in ARM China was being sold for US$775.2 million. The result appears to be that ARM lost control of the company that operates in China to collect royalties on ARM IP – a strange state of affairs. It appears that 2018 was the year that ARM got mugged in the corridors of power (see SoftBank confirms sell-off of ARM China stake).
7) Adesto buys S3 Semiconductor, Echelon
So 2018 was a busy year for public company Adesto Technologies Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.). In May the memory and IoT chip vendor moved to buy S3 Semiconductors (Dublin, Ireland), a supplier of mixed-signal and RF ASICs, for $35 million (see Adesto buys Dublin-based S3 Semiconductor). And followed this up in June with the acquisition of Echelon Corp. (San Jose, Calif.) for $45 million (see Adesto to acquire networking pioneer Echelon).
Also in June Adesto had announced it would work with foundries and fabs in Russia and China on the manufacturing of its conductive bridging RAM (see Adesto teams with Russian, Chinese fabs on CBRAM).
8) Missile, wafer makers save Dolphin
Dolphin Integrations SA (Grenoble, France) is one of the oldest EDA companies in Europe but it found itself in need of a bail out in 2018 after filing for insolvency in June.
Riding to the rescue came a 60:40 joint venture between Grenoble-based wafer provider Soitec SA and European missile manufacturer MBDA Missile Systems who agreed to buy most of Dolphin's assets for €6 million. MBDA is itself a joint venture being jointly owned by Airbus (37.5 percent), BAE Systems (37.5 percent), and Leonardo (25.0 percent). MBDA has a been a customer of Dolphin's for defense applications since 2004 (see Missile maker, Soitec save Dolphin Integration).
9) Renesas buys IDT
In September came another big deal. Japan's Renesas agreed to acquire the mixed-signal and communications IC company for $6.7 billion. IDT is a fit alongside power management semiconductor company Intersil, which Renesas acquired in February 2017. These two complement Renesas' capabilities in embedded processors and broaden its customer base from automotive to include IoT and big data processing (see Renesas to buy IDT for $6.7 billion).
10) Apple buys PMIC assets from Dialog Semiconductor
In October, European fabless chip company Dialog Semiconductor plc has announced it would transfer 16 percent of its workforce to Apple, while receiving license fees and prepayment for three years of products.
The deal is worth $600 million to Dialog and reduces the companies reliance on Apple as lead customer and on the vagaries of the volatile consumer electronics market (see Apple to acquire PMIC capabilities, staff from Dialog). The deal allows Dialog to focus on IoT, automotive, computing, storage and industrial applications.
While it may be seen as ultimately reducing Dialog's turnover by enabling Apple to design its own PMICs we commented at the time that it represented a good result for Dialog and a better likely outcome than that which befell Imagination Technologies (see Analysis: Dialog finds a better way out from under Apple).