LONDON Struggling Japanese chip company Renesas Electronics Corp. is to seek a 50 billion yen (about $620 million) investment from private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), according to a Nikkei report.
The 50 billion yen represents about the amount that Renesas needs for a $1.3 billion cash injection for a plan to lay off about one-third its work force and to close more than half its domestic manufacturing sites.
Two of Renesas' three parent companies Hitachi and Mitsubishi have agreed in principle to provide a support package worth 50 billion yen. NEC, the third and largest shareholder in Renesas, is unable to contribute with loans as it is struggling with the implementation of its own turn-around plan, according to an earlier Reuters, report.
A contribution of 50 billion yen would increase Renesas outstanding share count by nearly 40 percent, giving KKR a stake of just over 26 percent, according reports. It would also make KKR the largest shareholder in Renesas, ahead of NEC, Hitachi and Mitsubishi, whose shareholdings of about 35, 31 and 25 percent, respectively would be diluted to about 25, 22 and 18 percent, respectively. It is not expected that Hitachi and Mitsubishi would increase their stakes in Renesas.
KKR was part of a consortium that paid 6.4 billion euro (about $8 billion) for an 80 percent stake in chip company NXP as it was spun out of Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) in 2006. NXP loaded with debt to pay for the money used to buy it out. In 2009 the private equity holding was written down to just 10 percent of its original value.
During yesterday's stockholders' meeting, several executives were seen sleeping during the meeting. Only one person asked questions.
Stockholder "A":"What are you going to do with SOC?"
Akao: "We would like to get rid of it."
Stockholder "A": "What are the money money making products vs. money losing products?"
Akao: "MCU is making money, but the other two are not."
Stockholder "A": "How would you sell a factory?"
Akao: "I am sure someone will buy it." "We have not idea how to prevent our technology to be leaked. But we will try."
The stockholders' meeting started without much enthusiasm and ended with no enthusiasm.
I am not sure the present situation has such a big impact, although financial and business uncertainty is never good.
The bigger impact would have come form the Great Eastern Japan earthquake and tsunami, which caused disruption and loss of manufacturing to the automobile industry.
Japanese car makers' UK plants put their workforces on short time working for up to six months because of the lack of electronics subsystems, which were not there for want of a microcontroller. That is partly what the deal with TSMC is about, splitting the risk.
I think that whatever happens to Renesas it will remain strong in automotive microcontrollers for a while, but maybe not as strong as it was.
The continental dividing lines between car makers, their tier one suppliers and their preferred semiconductor suppliers, remain quite sharply defined, or am I wrong?
I guess Freescale will gain more traction with this situation, as it is one of the most dominant players in MCU auto market like Renesas. They can pan out more design wins from leading Japanese Auto OEMs and auto part manufacturers.
Indeed, lots of jobs will disappear & that's never pleasant; however, the restructuring is a must to save jobs too, tough medicine.
Renesas must leverage their auto microcontroller position, add their analog & power offerings to the mix, and divest the bleeding SoC business (if they can find buyers).
Lastly, Renesas must transform from a Japanese company into a global company headquartered in Japan.
One way to quickly right the big ship (for sure, it will be way down #4 in view of the declining ranks of Renesas Tech and NEC Electronics every year since their spun-off): KRR locks all the key middle management and the selected few from the rank & files, in a remote location. Most, if not all, of the upper management should be prohibited from participation. In fact, if they have any sense of pride left, they should probably ask not to attend the soul-searching meeting. There should also be participation from the oversea offices of Renesas (again, the top management at these offices should be prohibited from attendance). Unless the group comes out with business plans with short-term and mid-term goals which make business sense (not the traditional Japanese sense), nobody can leave the gathering. Further, people should be held accountable with rewards and consequences Unless a radical approach is taken to find workable solutions soon, KKR is going to see the $620 disappeared very quicky in a dark hole without any positive effect. In view of the past history, KKR extracted a very poor ROI from its past investment at Philips Semi/NXP, Hopefully, KKR can make the best use of its investors' money this time.
Well unfortunately it looks like after the cash infusion a lot of jobs will be axed.
What will be the next phase of life for what it was supposed woudl be number four in the global chip vendor rankings. Should it re-invent itself as just an automotive microcontroller company and sell everything else off?
Following the cash in-fusion, KKR should demand the resignation of a few of the top executives at Renesas. Without a quick surgery to remove the rotten part to raise the morale and to held people accountable, Renesas shall remain weak and non-competitive.
Subsequent to the cash infusion, KKR should demand the departure of a few of the senior executives at Renesas within a quarter. If the rotten part of Renesas cannot be removed soon, the future shall remain very bleak.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for todays commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.