Will GlobalFoundries Inc. or some other manifestation of the oil-rich state of Abu Dhabi, be buying the chip R&D and business interests of IBM any time soon? And what would be the price?
With GlobalFoundries bringing up its Fab 8 in Malta, New York, and their long mutual history, it would
make a great deal of sense to bundle up a lot of IBM's researchers, R&D,
patents and its 300-mm wafer fab at East Fishkill and hand them over.
One sticking point might be the price.
Lenovo paid about $1.75 billion for IBM's PC business back in 2005. But
at how much would you value IBM's chip business and semiconductor
research? Is $1 billion too much? Is $2 billion not enough?
Two other sticking points might be U.S. national security and national pride.
its investment decisions and with public authority support IBM has helped
revitalize the northeast of the United States and New York State in particular. It has
helped to bring GlobalFoundries, Sematech, and the Global 450
Consortium to come and work in New York. Only last September IBM pledged to
contribute $3.6 billion to a $4.4 billion five-year spend on the future
of chipmaking, backed by the state of New York.
While IBM must do the right thing by shareholders,
it is in a position to co-operate with United States' strategic
objectives, be they economic or related to the strategic ability to
manufacture leading-edge chips. If IBM's chip business fell under the control of Abu Dhabi
that would no longer be certain.
I think the foundry business needs a lot of capitol to survive. If you can't survive, any desire to put "america first" or "new york first" is irrelevant. A company I worked for made explicit efforts to put "eurozone first" and went out of business. I would have preferred they made survival priority #1, #2 and #3.
I am really happy to read this very detailed article. We did some analysis in our recent post that detects GF getting really close to #2 (UMC)
click here to see the graph:
"Two other sticking points might be U.S. national security and national pride."
The first half of that is probably a point worthy of more attention than given here. I'm I mistaken that IBM fabs a lot of chips destined for military equipment?
Yes, IBM is a "secure foundry" and as such are permitted to manufacture ICs for classified military use. This is a small niche business, not sure if they would spin off or kill this activity if they merged with GF.
As Peter pointed out here, I, too, always wondered about what's in it for IBM in paying for research into manufacturing processes, extreme ultraviolet lithography, and 450-mm diameter wafers... i don't think we've ever gotten straight answers from IBM on that either...
I don't believe Global can buy IBM's chip entity. If it ever happends, It should be the other way around. Just like Chartered folded under Global. Abu Dhabi can buy IBM's chip entity and Global can be folded under. That makes sense from technology R&D & management skills perspective. It's too much for Global to manage IBM's chip unit. GF lacks management skills and experience to manage such a heavy unit.
By the way IBM chip unit was rumored to be on sales sometime ago and I believe that TSMC and Samsung looked at it. The price tag was rumored to double digit $B then.
Competitors, partners, and customers in our interdependent semiconductor industry often have mutual interests that could benefit from cooperation. By offering customers efficiency, we’d all win. Sadly, that’s not how things often work.