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Tower expands fab portfolio with Jazz purchase

Posted: 21 May 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:specialty fab? Tower portfolio? Jazz purchase?

Expanding its efforts in the specialty foundry arena, Tower Semiconductor Ltd has signed a deal to acquire Jazz Technologies Inc.

Under the terms, Tower will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Jazz at an equity value of approximately $40 million. The total value of the transaction, including net debt, is approximately $169 million.

The move will expand Tower's worldwide presence, but the deal also raises some concerns among observers. Jazz is struggling and has been on the block for some time. Israel-based Tower has also struggled and lost vast sums of money over the years.

The deal is a surprise, as Tower was not considered a likely suitor to buy Jazz. Still, Tower and Jazz claim that they offer complementary technologies. The companies bring together Tower's strength in CMOS image sensor, non-volatile memory and RF CMOS with Jazz's expertise in mixed signal, power management and RF.

Tower also expands its fab portfolio. The company has its fabs in Israel. Jazz has a fab in the United States and has capacity agreements with various foundries in China. In total, the combined company offers capacity of approximately 750,000 8-inch wafer starts annually.

''The acquisition creates economies of scale, which allows for improved margins and strongly complements our specialty process offering, transforming us into the leading specialty pure-play foundry,'' said Russell Ellwanger, CEO of Tower, in a statement.

The agreement has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both Tower and Jazz.

Separately, Tower said revenue for Q1 2008 was $57.6 million as compared to revenue of $55.6 million in Q1 2007 and $61.6 milion in the prior quarter.

Calculated in accordance with GAAP, net loss for Q1 was $29.6 million, or minus $0.24 per share, compared to a loss of $40.2 million, or minus $0.38 per share, for the same period in 2007.

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