Aixtron Said Talking to Potential Buyers Amid Sales Struggle

  • German semiconductor equipment maker working with JPMorgan
  • Talks are on-and-off again; decision is unlikely in near-term

Aixtron SE, a German equipment supplier to the semiconductor industry, is holding informal talks with potential buyers as it grapples with the loss of a major customer and more difficult conditions for chipmakers, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is working with long-time financial adviser JPMorgan Chase & Co. to explore options and has spoken with potential buyers, including its main U.S. rival Veeco Instruments Inc. and Chinese bidders, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Discussions have been on-and-off again for months, and the company is unlikely to reach an agreement with any party soon, the people said.

Aixtron shares plunged as much as 43 percent on Dec. 10 after the company said Chinese client Sanan Optoelectronics Co. canceled orders, forcing Aixtron to reduce its sales outlook. The stock pared some of its losses earlier this month when the company said Taiwan’s Epistar Corp. had finalized a qualification process for one of its products and was “satisfied.”

The shares rose 8.9 percent to close at 4.25 euros in Frankfurt trading Thursday after earlier jumping as much as 17 percent. The company’s stock has fallen about 39 percent in the last 12 months, giving Aixtron a market value of about 479 million euros ($546 million). Veeco rose as much as 7 percent in Nasdaq stock market trading.

Semiconductor companies accounted for $85.7 billion of deals in the last 12 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, as they combined in the face of rising production costs and a shrinking customer list. In the industry’s biggest deal in the past year, Avago Technologies Ltd. agreed to buy Broadcom Corp. in a cash-and-stock offer valued at $37 billion when it was announced in May.

Spokesmen for Aixtron and Veeco declined to comment.

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