SAN JOSE, Calif. -- In a major move in the wafer cleaning equipment market, Lam Research Corp. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the SEZ Group for $568 million.
The move will expand Lam's fab-tool porfolio. Lam is a leader in the etch equipment market, but the company has been expanding into the wafer clean, patterning and other tool sectors. In recent times, however, Lam exited the CMP tool market, it was noted.
The ''deal would catapult Lam into dominant positions in both single wafer clean and dry etch markets,'' said Steven Pelayo, an analyst with HSBC Global Technology Research, in Hong Kong. ''Lam Research has been striving to enter the single wafer clean market for a little over one year. This proposed acquisition would immediately bring the company to the head of the pack.''
With SEZ (Zurich, Switzerland), Lam becomes a player in the large but fragmented cleaning market. SEZ's proprietary spin-process single wafer technology forms the basis of a broad equipment solution portfolio for wafer cleaning and decontamination. For 2007, SEZ currently expects to record total revenues of approximately $293 million.
Dataquest estimated the single-wafer cleaning market was about $640 million in 2006, in which SEZ dominated with 43 percent market share, according to HSBC.
''While the overall clean market is highly fragmented, single wafer clean is becoming increasingly more important and is thus one of the fastest growing segments of the market,'' Pelayo said in a report. ''SEZ's primary competitor in single wafer clean is Dianippon Screen, which maintains [a] 34 percent market share.''
Under the terms of the agreement, Lam Research will offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of SEZ. Following the closing, SEZ will become a division of Lam Research.
Under the terms, Lam (Fremont, Calif.) will pay $568 million at the current exchange rate. Net of cash acquired, the purchase price approximates $447 million.
SEZ executive team members, including chairman and chief executive officer Egon Putzi, will continue with the company under Lam's ownership. The transaction is expected to close in the March 2008 quarter, subject to the receipt of SEZ's shareholder and certain regulatory approvals.
"This transaction positions Lam Research and SEZ to revolutionize the increasingly important area of wafer cleaning, combining the world's largest single wafer installed base with Lam's emerging clean technologies, process integration capabilities and global scale," said Steve Newberry, president and CEO of Lam Research, in a statement.
In 2006, Lam signed a definitive agreement to acquire the silicon growing and fabrication assets of Bullen Ultrasonics for approximately $175 million in cash.