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Micron eyes Qimonda's stake in Inotera

Posted: 05 Aug 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:JV stake? Inotera shares? NAND joint venture? DRAM?

Micron Technology Inc.'s possible move to acquire Qimonda AG's stake in Inotera Memories Inc. could be near, according to an analyst. Inotera is the joint DRAM venture of Qimonda and Nanya Technology Corp.

Micron recently entered into a separate R&D and DRAM venture with Taiwanese memory rival Nanya, MeiYa Technology Corp., which raised questions about the Qimonda-Nanya alliance.

"Our checks continue to suggest that some form of deal that will allow Micron to take Qimonda's place in the Inotera manufacturing joint venture with Nanya is close to being consummated," said Daniel Berenbaum, an analyst with SG Cowen Securities Inc., in a report.

"Even if Micron has to purchase Qimonda's shares directly at a big premium to market price, it would allow a capex cut, lower unit costs, increase DRAM bit growth, and provide a royalty revenue stream," he added.

Addressing the issues
According to Berenbaum, Micron is expected to address several issues in its analysts' day this week, including industry supply/demand dynamics for memory. "We expect both NAND and DRAM to remain in oversupply through H109," he said.

Another issue is the long-awaited CMOS image sensor spinoff, "which may finally be close to getting done," he noted. Micron recently set the stage for a possible spinout of its CMOS image sensor business by transforming its sensor business unit into an independent division. That entity, Aptina Imaging, will be free to seek manufacturing alliances with outside foundries. The captive business unit had relied solely on Micron for its manufacturing needs.

Also expected to be discussed are the options and ramp plans for NAND JV with Intel, IM Flash. "Intel appears disappointed with profitability of JV and may be looking to exit or reduce its stake," he said.

Rumors are running rampant that Seagate Technology may buy Intel's stake in IM Flash. On one hand, Intel's margins are taking a hit due to the NAND downturn.

But Intel and Micron have recently leapfrogged the competition and claimed the technical lead in the NAND flash memory market. Reportedly moving ahead of Toshiba, Samsung and others in the process race, the Intel-Micron duo have introduced the industry's first sub-40nm NAND flash device, by rolling out 34nm, 32Gbit multi-level cell chip. Previously, the leading-edge NAND device from Intel and Micron was a 50nm part.

Separately, the company also announced the appointment of Mark Adams to the position of VP of worldwide sales. Adams, formerly Micron's VP of digital media, joined Micron in 2006 with the company's acquisition of Lexar Media Inc. Adams replaces Mike Sadler, who has accepted a new role in the office of the president for MeiYa.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times





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