NEW YORK Ė Thereís nothing surprising about Japan Inc. going out of its way to bail out Renesas Electronics. The obvious objective is to maintain a steady flow of Renesas chips into domestic products, especially Toyota and Nissan automobiles.
Surprising, however, are rumors that the new owners of Renesas are looking for a foreign executive to head up the company.
Under the deal announced Monday (Dec. 10), the Innovation Network Corp. of Japan (INCJ), a public-private partnership, will pay 138 billion yen ($1,675 million) to acquire a 69 percent stake in Renesas. Eight major Renesas customers, including Toyota, Nissan, Canon and Panasonic, will pay almost 12 billion yen ($146 million) for a 6 percent stake.
That means the chip maker's former majority shareholders Ė NEC, Hitachi and Mitsubishi Ė will see their share drop from 90 to 23 percent. The trio joined forces to form Renesas by combining their loss-making chip operations, but are showing no interest in a majority stake in Renesas. The three companies agreed to accept some laid-off Renesas employees, and to provide loans for restructuring. But itís clear. They arenít committed to doing anything beyond that.
Why a foreign CEO?Nikkei
, Japanís economic journal, quoted an unnamed senior INCJ official, as saying it is looking for "a foreign executive, well-versed in the semiconductor industry to serve as the new CEO of Renesas." INCJ is also seeking a leader "with a shining track record in managing a global semiconductor maker who can reinvent the firm."
That's a tall order.