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Applied Materials, DNS form track venture

Posted: 18 May 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Mark LaPedus? Applied Materials? Dainippon Screen? track-equipment venture?

Continuing on its quest to enter new and big markets, Applied Materials Inc. said that it has signed an agreement to create a joint track-equipment venture with Japan's Dainippon Screen Mfg Co. Ltd (DNS).

The new company, to be called Sokudo Co. Ltd, will develop and sell track equipment for semiconductor manufacturing. Headquartered in Kyoto, Japan, Sokudo will operate as a separate entity having its own management structure, with 52 percent owned by DNS and 48 percent owned by Applied Materials.

In addition, DNS will transfer into the new company its existing track business and related intellectual property (IP), including employees, products and its installed base of systems. Applied's contribution to Sokudo will include technology and related IP, key development employees and $151 million. DNS will perform manufacturing for Sokudo under an outsourcing agreement.

"Partnering with Screen in this new company is an opportunity for Applied to grow our business by accelerating our entry into track, a large and growing market that complements our thin film nanomanufacturing technology capabilities," said Mike Splinter, president and CEO of Applied, in a statement.

According to market researcher Gartner Dataquest, the market for track systems was estimated to be $1.4 billion in 2005 and is forecast to grow to nearly $2 billion in 2008.

In its early years, Applied developed a track system. It was also reportedly developing its own track systems several years ago, but it apparently dropped those efforts. With the new venture, Applied is the only U.S.-based company in the track business. FSI International Inc. was the last U.S.-based company to field track systems, but the company dropped that line several years ago.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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