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Qimonda, Nanya review DRAM JV Inotera

Posted: 27 Mar 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DRAM? joint venture? Inotera?

Negotiations on the future of DRAM manufacturing joint venture Inotera Memories Inc. between major shareholders Qimonda AG and Nanya Technology Corp. have stirred rumors in the industry. Nanya could take over Qimonda's 35 percent stake, a Bloomberg report said. But Qimonda seems to have different plans.

A Qimonda spokesperson acknowledged that the company is in negotiations with Nanya over Inotera's future. He pointed out, however, that there is no decision in sight. "Any option is equally likely," he said, refusing any further comment.

Nanya and Qimonda each hold 35 percent of Inotera shares; the remainder is owned by the Inotera staff and in the free float. Inotera's production is shared equally between Qimonda and Inotera. According to sources close to the matter, Inotera contributes about 25-30 percent to Qimonda's total production of about 180,000 wafer starts per month.

Technologies involved
Qimonda's move to change its production to 58nm geometries and to introduce a new production technology based on the company's Buried World Line technology coincides with the end of the company's technology cooperation with Nanya. "We think we are in a very strong position with respect to our technology," said a Qimonda source with regard to the ongoing negotiations. "This technology enables us to play an active role in the market. We have no interest to sell our Inotera stake."

The Bloomberg article quotes Nanya Senior VP Moor Chen saying that there are several options, of which the takeover of Qimonda's Inotera stake is just one possibility. Another option would be that Qimonda instead buys Nanya's stake, or that both companies sell all or part of their stakes to a third-party investor.

According to Bloomberg, the discussions between Nanya and Qimonda began after U.S. DRAM manufacturer Micron Technology agreed to form a joint venture with Nanya. This venture will produce chips using Micron's "stack" manufacturing technology while Inotera uses Qimonda's "trench" technology.

In good health
Despite high losses in the recent quarters, Qimonda might not be forced to move out of the manufacturing joint venture. The Qimonda source pointed out that the company has a comfortable cash position and achieved a strong bit growth. "Our growth is more than healthy," the person said. "We do not sit on piles of unsold memory chips."

Qimonda parent company Infineon's stock prices added 7.5 percent on the news. The company, however, was not available to comment. Interestingly, Qimonda's shares at the Berlin stock exchange performed weakly, slipping 2.6 percent. In recent weeks, Infineon has come under heavy pressure due to the losses of its Qimonda subsidiary.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
EE Times Europe

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