LONDON Ė There are no inter-company talks about Russia's AFK Sistema taking a major stake in German chip company Infineon Technologies AG, according to Infineon CEO Peter Bauer, quoted in Suddeutsche Zeitung Thursday (July 15). This is despite cooperation talks between Russia's President Dmitri Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and despite Siemens winning billions of dollars of business with Russian state enterprises.
Russia has reportedly been pursuing an investment of 29 percent in Infineon (Munich, Germany) through political talks at the highest levels. Sistema is a supplier of telecommunications and computer equipment and its Sitronics subsidiary in turn owns Russian chip manufacturer JSC Mikron. Mikron, a classic example of how Russia's chip technology has stagnated over the last twenty years, is nonetheless a Russian vehicle for certain state-sponsored developments such as RFID chips for ticketing in the Moscow underground railway and chips for e-passports.
The Suddeutsche Zeitung report quoted Bauer as saying there are no talks between Infineon and Sistema but that any entity could buy up to 25 percent minus one share of Infineon's stock. The 25 percent limit comes as a result of Infineon's capabilities in secure and cryptographic chips for applications such as e-passports. A regulation is in place that any foreign investor seeking to take a greater than 25 percent stake in Infineon would need German federal government approval.
Bauer was quoted in the article saying that semiconductor market is set to continue growing in 2011 and that he expects Infineon's annual sales to increase in the next fiscal year (2010/2011) in the high-single digits.
Infineon does have a stake in a chip manufacturing joint venture, Altis Semiconductor SA, which it has been trying to dispose of for some time, but without success so far.
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