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SiC Giants

sic giants

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At the outset of the 21st century, the burgeoning new energy industries, such as electric vehicles and solar cells, have propelled the rapid ascendancy of SiC, a semiconductor material that boasts superior properties like high temperature, high voltage, and high frequency. Consequently, several SiC behemoths across the globe have swiftly emerged, expanded their scope through acquisitions and mergers, and established themselves as frontrunners in the industry.

The likes of Infineon from Germany, Wolfspeed and ON Semiconductor from the US, STMicrosemiconductor from Switzerland, and ROHM from Japan have carried out a series of substantial acquisitions that span various stages of the entire SiC industry chain, from raw materials and wafer manufacturing to device packaging. These strategic moves have effectively driven the overall development of the SiC industry.

Against this backdrop, this article delves into the M&A growth history of these SiC giants, from their initial entrepreneurial roots to the intricate process of acquisition and merger. This exploration will uncover the crucial role these companies have played in shaping the industry, while also shedding light on the development trajectory and trends of the global SiC industry.

Notably, while acquisitions have been a pivotal growth strategy, it is essential to underscore the equally significant role of their own research endeavors.

Wolfspeed

wolfspeed

Wolfspeed is one of the earliest companies to enter the SiC field globally, having focused on the development and production of SiC devices since its establishment in 1997. Originally a division of Cree, in 2014 Cree created Wolfspeed as its subsidiary dedicated to SiC business. In 2017, Cree reorganized Wolfspeed as an independent company, which went public in 2019.

Despite its long history in the SiC industry, Wolfspeed’s relatively narrow business focus has resulted in a limited acquisition history. In March 2018, Wolfspeed acquired the assets of Infineon’s RF power business for about 345 million euros, a move that expanded Cree Wolfspeed’s opportunities in the wireless market. In July 2015, in order to enhance its packaging capabilities, Wolfspeed (then still part of Cree) acquired Arkansas Power Electronics International Inc (APEI), a supplier of SiC power modules and power electronics applications based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA.

Infineon

infineon logo

Infineon Technologies AG, a German semiconductor company established in 1999, is a prominent player in the power semiconductor industry, with a history of producing SiC power devices since 1992. Its CoolSiC™ product has been available in the market for 21 years. Apart from SiC, Infineon has diversified its business areas, leading to several acquisitions throughout its history. The following is a summary of the company’s acquisition history:

TimeAcquired CompanyMain Business
April 2001CatamaranOptical network chips
January 2004ADMtekNetworking and communication chips
June 2007DSL customer premises equipment (CPE) business
August 2007LSI’s mobile products division
April 2008PrimarionDigital power IC
November 2014Schweizer ElectronicPCB manufacturer
May 2015LS Power SemitechIntelligent Power Module(IPM)
November 2015IFPower semiconductor devices and analog chips
October 2016Innoluce BVMEMS
November 2018Siltectra GmbHWireless technologies, MCUs, memories, analog ICs, and USB controllers, etc.
April 2020CypressWireless technologies, MCUs, memories, analog ICs and USB controllers, etc.
November 2021Syntronixs AsiaPlating process
July 2022NoBugValidation and design services
August 2022Industrial AnalyticsArtificial intelligence analysis
March 2023GaN Systems
Infineon acquisitions

In April 2001, Infineon announced its acquisition of Catamaran Communications Inc. of San Jose, California, for $250 million in common stock. Catamaran was an emerging leader in the development of integrated circuits for the rapidly growing 10 Gbps and next-generation 40 Gbps segments of the optical networking market. With this acquisition, Infineon acquired a complete line card solution from optics to network processor interfaces.

On January 28, 2004, Infineon acquired the controlling stake of ADMtek, a Taiwanese chip design company focusing on network and communication products, for about €80 million in cash. This marked Infineon’s first acquisition of an Asian semiconductor company. The acquisition enabled Infineon to expand into new businesses such as ADSL and internet protocol voice (VoIP), thereby driving its activities in the access segment of the wireline communication business group.

On June 25, 2007, Infineon announced its plan to acquire Texas Instruments’ (TI) DSL customer premises equipment (CPE) business. TI’s DSL CPE products complemented Infineon’s roadmap and provided unique end-to-end products for DSL customers.

In August 2007, Infineon announced its acquisition of LSI’s mobile products division for about €330 million plus up to €37 million of contingent consideration. LSI’s mobile products division primarily included mobile wireless radio baseband processors and platforms, which complemented Infineon’s existing product portfolio.

In April 2008, Infineon acquired 100% of the shares of Primarion, headquartered in Torrance, California, to further strengthen its activities in the field of power management applications. Primarion was one of the leaders in the design, manufacturing, and marketing of digital power ICs for computing, graphics, and communication applications.

In November 2014, Infineon acquired a 9.4% stake in PCB manufacturer Schweizer Electronic. Through the investment in Schweizer, Infineon emphasized its intention to jointly develop power semiconductor integration into PCB technology and develop chips embedded in the market for high-power automotive and industrial applications. Schweizer’s chip embedding technology complements Infineon’s proprietary chip embedding packaging technology BLADE, such as DC/DC conversion required for processors in computer and telecommunication systems.

In May 2015, Infineon acquired all outstanding shares of LS Power Semitech Co., Ltd., a Korean IPM supplier. Infineon initially held a 46% stake in the LS Industrial Systems joint venture. This strategic acquisition expanded Infineon’s global footprint in the growing market of intelligent power modules (IPMs), which enhance the energy efficiency of consumer appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dryers, and air conditioners.

In May 2015, Infineon purchased all outstanding shares of LS Power Semitech Co., Ltd., a Korean supplier of intelligent power modules (IPMs) that increase energy efficiency in consumer appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dryers, and air conditioners. This strategic acquisition allowed Infineon to expand its global footprint in the growing market of IPMs. Initially, Infineon held a 46% stake in the LS Industrial Systems joint venture.

In November 2015, Infineon acquired International Rectifier, a US-based company that specialized in power semiconductor devices and analog chips, for 850 million euros. This acquisition positioned Infineon as the market leader with a 19.2% market share.

In March 2016, Infineon announced its intention to acquire Wolfspeed for $845 million. However, the deal faced challenges with US national security and was ultimately vetoed by the US government.

On October 11, 2016, Infineon acquired all shares of Innoluce BV, a non-wafer semiconductor company based in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. This acquisition allowed Infineon to develop chip components for high-performance lidar systems based on Innoluce’s proprietary technology. As a result, Infineon further solidified its leading position in the field of autonomous driving.

On November 12, 2018, Infineon acquired Siltectra GmbH, a start-up based in Dresden that developed an innovative technology called Cold Split. The technology efficiently processes crystal materials while minimizing material loss. Infineon will utilize Cold Split to split silicon carbide (SiC) wafers, doubling the number of chips per wafer. The acquisition price was €124 million, agreed upon with major shareholder venture capital investor MIG Fonds.

On April 16, 2020, Infineon completed its acquisition of Cypress, which gave it a 2.2% share in the automotive semiconductor market. According to authoritative institutions such as Strategy Analytics, Infineon’s own share of the automotive semiconductor market was 11.2%. After the combination with Cypress, “New Infineon” surpassed NXP with a market share of 13.4%. The merger also made Infineon a leading supplier of power semiconductors, security ICs, and NOR flash memory markets.

On November 29, 2021, Infineon acquired Syntronixs Asia Sdn. Bhd., an electroplating company located in Malacca, Malaysia. Syntronixs Asia has been a major service provider for Infineon since 2009 and specializes in precision electroplating, a critical process in semiconductor assembly that ensures the long-term reliability of high-quality Infineon products.

On July 1, 2022, Infineon Technologies acquired NoBug, a validation expert in Romania and Serbia. NoBug was founded in 1998 and provides validation and design services for all digital functions of semiconductor products. By adding these R&D centers, Infineon further enhanced its capabilities in developing complex IoT products in its Connected Secure Systems (CSS) division.

On August 11, 2022, Infineon acquired Industrial Analytics, a Berlin-based start-up, to strengthen its solutions in artificial intelligence analysis for machines and industrial equipment.

In March 2023, Infineon announced its plans to acquire GaN Systems, a Canadian company, for $830 million. This acquisition will help Infineon to bolster its GaN product portfolio and consolidate its global leadership in the power system field.

STMicroelectronics (ST)

st

STMicroelectronics (ST) Group was founded in 1987 with headquarters in Switzerland, resulting from the merger of Italy’s SGS Microelettronica and France’s Thomson Semiconductors. In May 1998, SGS-THOMSON Microelectronics changed its name to STMicroelectronics.

In its history of acquisitions, STMicroelectronics has acquired Norstel, a SiC wafer manufacturer, and Exagan, a GaN manufacturer. In addition, it has acquired multiple software tool vendors to develop its MCU products. The following are its major acquisition histories:

On December 12, 2017, STMicroelectronics acquired Atollic, a software development tool expert. Atollic is the supplier of TrueSTUDIO®, a professional and highly-rated integrated development environment (IDE) for embedded development communities focusing on Arm® Cortex®-M microcontrollers, such as ST’s leading STM32 series 32-bit microcontrollers (MCUs).

In July 2018, STMicroelectronics acquired Draupner Graphics, a software specialist. Draupner Graphics is the developer and supplier of TouchGFX, a software framework that provides excellent graphics and smooth animation effects for embedded graphical user interfaces (GUIs) while minimizing resource requirements and power consumption. TouchGFX is hosted on 32-bit microcontrollers and can achieve high-end graphics fully compliant with today’s smartphone standards on all devices and systems, including smart home and building automation systems, appliances, wearables, and audio and video systems.

On February 6, 2019, STMicroelectronics acquired a majority stake in Norstel AB, a Swedish SiC wafer manufacturer. Norstel, headquartered in Norrköping, Sweden, was established in 2005 and is a subsidiary of Linköping University. It develops and manufactures advanced 150mm SiC wafers and epitaxial wafers.

On March 5, 2020, STMicroelectronics acquired a majority stake in Exagan, a French GaN vendor. Exagan’s expertise in epitaxy, product development, and application technology will broaden and accelerate ST’s power GaN roadmap and business in the automotive, industrial, and consumer application fields.

On October 15, 2020, STMicroelectronics announced the acquisition and integration of assets from SOMOS Semiconductor, based in Marly-le-Roy, France. SOMOS focuses on silicon-based power amplifiers and radio frequency front-end module (FEM) products. SOMOS will support the development of ST’s existing 5G infrastructure market RF front-end module roadmap.

In May 2021, STMicroelectronics acquired Edge AI software specialist Cartesiam. Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Toulon, France, Cartesiam’s patented flagship solution NanoEdge™ AI Studio enables embedded system designers to quickly develop specialized libraries without AI knowledge and directly integrate machine learning algorithms into a wide range of applications. The NanoEdge™ AI Studio solution complements STMicroelectronics’ STM32Cube.AI toolset and provides additional flexibility for STMicroelectronics’ customers to integrate machine learning into their solutions.

Onsemi

onsemi

Onsemi was founded in 1999, headquartered in Arizona, USA. Initially, it was a part of the US company Motorola, but later became an independent company. When conducting mergers and acquisitions, Onsemi usually focuses on enhancing its advantages in specific markets and technological fields. For example, the acquisition of Fairchild made Onsemi one of the largest power semiconductor manufacturers in the world, while the acquisition of Quantenna strengthened its market share in the Wi-Fi chip and solution field.

Here is Onsemi’s acquisition history:

TimeAcquired CompanyMain Business
2000Cherry Semiconductor
2006LSI LogicMemory and standard products
March 2008AMI SemiconductorAnalog and mixed-signal semiconductor
October 2008CatalystNon-volatile memory manufacturer
2010CMDDedicated Integrated Passive ASIP Device
2010Sound Design TechnologiesPower management and audio solutions
January 2011SANYOMotor driver ICs, audio ICs, power ICs, display driver ICs
April, 2014Truesense ImagingImage sensor
2014Aptina ImagingImage sensor
September 2016FairchildPower semiconductors, analog semiconductors, and signal transmission
May 2018SensL Silicon photomultiplier (SiPM), single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD), and LiDAR sensing products
March 2019QuantennaWi-Fi chip
August 2021GTATSiC substrate film
February 2023East Fishkill (EFK) New York facility and manufacturing facilities
Onsemi acquisitions

In 2000, Onsemi acquired Cherry Semiconductor for $105 million, which strengthened the company’s position in the analog semiconductor market.

In 2006, Onsemi acquired LSI Logic’s storage and standard product business for $427 million, which greatly improved Onsemi’s digital signal processor, memory, and USB controller capabilities. This acquisition was one of Onsemi’s earliest mergers and acquisitions, and an important step for the company’s diversification and expansion.

In March 2008, Onsemi acquired AMI Semiconductor for approximately $956 million, a company specializing in analog and mixed-signal semiconductor solutions.

On October 10, 2008, Onsemi completed the stock swap merger acquisition of low-power non-volatile memory manufacturer Catalyst Semiconductor Corporation. This acquisition added important non-volatile memory business to Onsemi and further expanded the company’s product line.

In 2010, Onsemi acquired CMD for $480 million. This acquisition strengthened Onsemi’s position in the memory and storage controller field and provided the company with a wider range of products and technological advantages.

In 2010, Onsemi acquired Sound Design Technologies, a power management and audio solutions company. This acquisition brought advanced audio and power management technology to Onsemi and strengthened the company’s competitiveness in fields such as automotive, industrial, and consumer electronics.

In January 2011, Onsemi completed the acquisition of SANYO Semiconductor, a subsidiary of SANYO Electric, for approximately $144 million in cash and approximately $378 million based on the loan agreement with SANYO Electric. This acquisition added new features to Onsemi from microcontrollers and ASICs to integrated power modules and motor control equipment for consumer, automotive, and industrial terminal markets.

On April 2, 2014, Onsemi announced the acquisition of Truesense Imaging for $92 million. Truesense Imaging’s main products are CCD image sensors and a small number of CMOS image sensors. This acquisition expanded Onsemi’s business in image sensors.

In 2014, Onsemi acquired Aptina Imaging, a leading image sensor manufacturer. This acquisition strengthened Onsemi’s market share in the digital image sensor field and made the company one of the world’s largest image sensor manufacturers.

On September 19, 2016, Onsemi completed the announced Fairchild acquisition for $2.4 billion in cash. This was its largest acquisition to date, and it expanded Onsemi’s product line in power semiconductors, analog semiconductors, and signal transmission.

Onsemi announced the acquisition of SensL Technologies Ltd., an Irish company that is a technology leader in providing silicon photomultiplier (SiPM), single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD), and LiDAR sensing products for the automotive, medical, industrial, and consumer markets on May 9, 2018. This acquisition allowed Onsemi to expand its market leadership position in sensing applications for advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving in the automotive industry, as well as broaden its capabilities in imaging, radar, and LiDAR.

On March 28, 2019, Onsemi announced the acquisition of Wi-Fi chip manufacturer Quantenna Communications, which expanded its business in areas such as smart homes and industrial applications, and strengthened the company’s technical capabilities in wireless connectivity.

On August 25, 2021, Onsemi announced that it would acquire GTAT for $415 million in cash (approximately RMB 2.688 billion). GTAT was established in 1994 and has extensive experience in crystal development, including SiC. This transaction will enable Onsemi to better ensure and increase the supply of SiC. Onsemi plans to invest in expanding GTAT’s research and development work to advance 150mm and 200mm SiC crystal growth technology, as well as in a wider SiC supply chain, including wafer fab capacity and packaging.

On February 10, 2023, Onsemi successfully completed the acquisition of GlobalFoundries (GF) 300 mm East Fishkill (EFK) New York facility and manufacturing facilities, effective December 31, 2022. The EFK factory is the largest onsemi manufacturing facility in the United States and the company’s only 12-inch power discrete and image sensor factory in the United States, adding advanced CMOS capabilities to Onsemi’s manufacturing configuration, including 40nm and 65nm technology nodes and specialized processing capabilities required for image sensor production.

Sell-off: Onsemi has not only carried out multiple mergers and acquisitions but also some divestitures and separations in its development. In particular, its recent Fab-liter strategy has been continuously divesting wafer fabs. Onsemi has sold its wafer fabs located in South Portland, Maine, Oudenaarde, Belgium, and Pocatello, Idaho, as well as its factory in Niigata, Japan.

Rohm

rohm 1

In 1958, Rohm started as a small electronic component manufacturer in Kyoto, Japan. Through continuous development and acquisition, Rohm gradually gained a good industry position in multiple fields. The following are some important acquisition histories of Rohm:

In 2009, Rohm acquired Swiss semiconductor company SiCrystal, which was Rohm’s first acquisition in Europe. SiCrystal is a company specializing in the production of silicon carbide single crystals. This acquisition strengthened Rohm’s competitiveness in the field of silicon carbide semiconductors and also promoted its expansion in the European market.

In 2009, Rohm Semiconductor acquired Kionix, a US company specializing in inertial sensor and MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) technology. This acquisition enabled Rohm to enter the high-level sensor camp and helped Rohm broaden new application spaces.

On July 22, 2015, Rohm completed the acquisition of Ireland’s Powervation Ltd. for approximately $70 million. Powervation is a fabless semiconductor company engaged in the development and sales of digital power control ICs, with autonomous technology related to system power supply with high-precision real-time automatic correction function.

In 2016, Rohm acquired LAPIS Semiconductor, an important acquisition for Rohm in the field of wireless communication. LAPIS Semiconductor is a company specializing in wireless communication and low-power semiconductors. This acquisition strengthened Rohm’s technical strength in the fields of the Internet of Things and smart homes.

In 2019, Rohm announced the acquisition of some business units of the diode and transistor business division of Panasonic Semiconductor Business Unit.

On December 9, 2022, Rohm Group announced that it will acquire the PC film and sheet business of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC). Through this acquisition, Rohm will add polycarbonate (PC) sheet and film business on top of its existing polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) sheet and film business.

Conclusion

It is evident that the SiC giants have expanded their operations continuously through acquisitions and mergers. This has enabled them to establish a complete SiC industry chain and achieve global mastery of the core competencies of SiC technology. This has not only propelled the development of the entire SiC industry but also provided robust support for the growth of industries such as new energy vehicles and solar cells. With the ongoing maturity of SiC technology and the surging market demand, these SiC giants will undoubtedly continue to play crucial roles in the industry.

Simultaneously, the acquisitions and mergers of these manufacturers illustrate the intense competition prevailing in the semiconductor industry. The competition between companies is not limited to technology and products but also encompasses market share and scale. Through acquisitions and mergers, semiconductor firms can rapidly expand their market share and scale, thereby gaining a significant edge in this highly competitive environment.

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