LONDON – Lithography tool vendor ASML Holding NV (Veldhoven, The Netherlands) is negotiating with leading chip makers Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. over taking up to a 10 percent stake in the company under its equity-plus-research program.
The deals would be done under the same program that has seen Intel agree to take a 15 percent stake in AMSL (see Intel buys stake in ASML to boost 450-mm, EUV R&D). The three companies have been offered first refusal on the deal involving a 25 percent equity stake in ASML. "This is being done as a way to secure Moore's Law," said Eric Meurice, CEO of ASML, speaking on a conference call with analysts on Tuesday (July 10).
ASML announced Monday (July 9) that Intel would take a 15 percent stake in the company as part of a complex cash raising exercise to pay for continued research into technologies for extreme ultraviolet lithography and 450-mm diameter wafer production. Up to 25 percent of ASML is on offer so Intel's first move leaves Samsung and TSMC being asked to put up about $600 million in research funds and pay about $2 billion for a 10 percent stake in ASML.
Meurice told analysts in the conference call that ASML had gone to its three biggest customers — Intel, Samsung and TSMC – with the idea of tying research funding to a minority equity opportunity and had been negotiating to sell a 25 percent stake in the company for the last six to nine months. The shares issued under the program are being held in a foundation and do not have voting rights except in certain limited circumstances, so that they are being provided as a value appreciation opportunity for leading customers to offset the cost of funding ASML's R&D.
The program, if fully executed, will raise about 1.38 billion euro (about $1.7 billion) for funding the R&D as well as raising about 4.19 billion euro (about $5.16 billion) through the sale of shares in the company, ASML said. The entire proceeds of the share sales are being returned to the previously existing ASML shareholders.
"Intel has been the first to shoot. They jumped quickly, before the other two," said Meurice. "TSMC and Samsung are still in negotiations."
He added: "We do not know if the other two [Samsung and TSMC] with Intel will cover the full 25 percent. TSMC and Samsung may participate to a smaller level leaving room for others to come in."
Meurice concluded: "We hope to have the three companies. Maybe we will have more. Or maybe we will stop at Intel if we cannot persuade the others."
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