SAN JOSE, Calif. - After months of uncertainty and confusion, Altis Semiconductor SA, a joint venture between Infineon Technologies AG and IBM Corp., has finally found a buyer.
But will the deal go through? Over the years, IBM and Infineon have experienced problems unloading the venture.
On Thursday, IBM and Infineon Technologies said they closed a transaction to sell 100 percent of the share capital of Altis Semiconductor to a new corporation, dubbed Altis International. Altis International is owned by Yazid Sabeg. The French entrepreneur is also chairman of the board of CS Communication & Systèmes which is specialized in communications and security systems.
IBM and Infineon said this completes the divestment of their joint venture Altis Semiconductor in France. IBM and Infineon have also entered into supply agreements with Altis Semiconductor and will continue to use the production facility in France under their silicon foundry sourcing strategies and as a subcontractor for wafer test services.
Altis has been used by Infineon and IBM to perform production of electronic components using 0.25-micron aluminum technology to 0.13-micron copper technology mainly for communications, automotive and security applications.
Altis has been on the block for some time. The chip maker started off as a joint MRAM maker between IBM and Infineon, but those efforts failed. The efforts to sell Altis date back at least three years, but several attempts to sell the joint venture to Russian, Swiss and other investors failed.
Last year, Altis was apparently acquried by Germain Djouhri, a French-Algerian financier who is prepared to invest 79 million euros ($118 million) in the company, according to reports. That deal apparently fell through.
Also last year, Altis Semiconductor was turned into an independent foundry service.
The German government has a vested interest in ensuring the survival of Infineon, due to the companies' links to educational and industrial institutes, as well as certain "sensitive" chipcard technologies. So it's highly doubtful that it will ever completely be taken over.
The Intel deal is almost done already (unless the departure of the CFO was linked to that, and CEO Peter Bauer wants to keep the rest intact -- in which case he himself might be in trouble if Wireless BU's value drops significantly in the next downturn).
Besides, there's an article somewhere that says any company can only buy a maximum of 25% minus 1 share of the company, to protect the chipcard technologies.
I think what we'll end up seeing instead is a slow agonising death.
It'll certainly be a step forward for Infineon if they manage to offload Altis finally. But what's not mentioned in the article is what's the financial impact to IBM and Infineon for this new development.
Altis has reportedly been in financial red ink for some time, so does this sale incur further significant write-offs from both parent companies?
I am wondering if this is the last we hear of Altis. More importantly, what will happen to Infineon? Will Intel buy the cell-phone chip operations? Will the Russians buy Infineon?
I see Intel buying the cell-phone chip unit. Intel wants back in the market.
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.