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What is Spansion's next move?

Posted: 17 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Spansion next move? NOR flash? IC assembly?

What's in store for Spansion Inc.? The troubled NOR flash maker appears to be weighing its options amid reports that it can't pay its tool vendors and that its proposed backend venture in China is falling apart.

On Jan. 15, the company announced it was exploring strategic alternatives for a sale or merger. Micron, Toshiba and others are possible suitors.

Spansion's CEO stepped down last week. It also announced plans to restructure its balance sheet. Then, this week, the Japanese unit of Spansion said it filed for bankruptcy protection.

In other words, Spansion is in the midst of a crisis. Asked if Spansion would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States, as some have speculated, a spokeswoman for the company said: "Legally, this filing (in Japan) does not automatically require a filing in the U.S. Management is committed to working diligently with outside advisors to help guide the company through the restructuring process. We can't comment on speculation beyond (the Japan) announcement."

There are also reports that its backend deal in China has fallen through. Spansion and Taiwan's Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE) recently signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a venture to jointly own Spansion's IC-assembly operations in Suzhou, China.

"Our discussions with ASE continue, but we are unable to provide a date on when the deal may close," the Spansion spokeswoman said.

There are other issues. One ATE vendor, Verigy Inc., hinted that its sales were impacted by a non-payment from a customer, reportedly Spansion.

"We have a corporate policy of not speculating or commenting on market rumors," the spokeswoman added.

Taiwanese IC-packaging and test house ChipMOS Technologies Ltd recently delivered a notice of breach and notice of intent to terminate a service agreement with Spansion.

Spansion currently has an outstanding account receivable with ChipMOS of approximately $57 million of which approximately $18 million is in default, according to the IC-packaging house. ChipMOS provides IC-packaging and test services for Spansion.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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