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ST considering sale of memory business, says report

Posted: 25 May 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:memory? eprom?

STMicroelectronics NV is considering selling its memory business, according to reports.

A newsletter from Semico Research Corp. refers to the Wall Street Journal stating that ST is considering selling its memory business. The newsletter goes on to observe that ST lost $313 million on memory revenues of $1,887 million in 2004 and that with Intel taking flash share from ST in set-top boxes and the overall NOR market going into decline, the memory group at ST appears a reasonable target for a cut.

Jim Handy, Semico director of nonvolatile memory services, contributed the item to the newsletter and pointed out that ST has also lost its leadership position in EPROM where in 2004 ST's share was 26 percent compared to 66 percent belonging to Oki Electric.

Handy added that ST's aspirations to be a significant vendor of the NAND-type flash memory, through a partnership agreement with Hynix, came undone when SanDisk hit ST with a lawsuit.

"We suspect that the original agreement with partner Hynix may have split the world into territories. If Hynix gets Asia and ST gets Europe and the US, then ST gets all the lawsuits while Hynix can ship freely - and that appears to be what's happening," said Handy in the newsletter. Handy observed that Hynix shipped ten times as much NAND flash as ST did in 2004, even though their agreement was to split Hynix' output equally.

Hynix has recently opened a joint-venture wafer fab with STMicroelectronics in China. While that would appear to be geared towards multi-chip packaging for mobile phones with Hynix making DRAMs and ST making flash memory, one possibility implied by the reports is that what has started out as hand-in-hand partnership could turn to hand over.

- Peter Clarke

EE Times

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