Micron Seen Saving $400 Million on Elpida Due to Weak Yen

Micron Technology Inc. is poised to get a $400 million discount on the acquisition of Japanese rival Elpida Memory Inc., after a 16 percent slump in the yen against the U.S. dollar.

The yen has declined to 94.52 per dollar, at 1:16 p.m. in New York, compared with 79.51 on July 2, when the takeover was announced. If the deal to buy Elpida for 200 billion yen were to be completed today, Micron would pay $2.12 billion, compared with $2.52 billion at the time it was announced. Even so, some of the benefit may be limited by hedges made to protect against a rise in the currency, which didn’t materialize.

Weakness in the yen, which is declining because of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pledge to curb the currency’s strength, makes the deal more alluring by cutting the purchase price, and because Elpida’s products will be less expensive in markets where currencies are gaining against Japan’s.

“The yen weakening while they’re purchasing a significant asset in Japan allows them to now buy that asset at a much lower price than was negotiated and makes it much more profitable in operations,” Doug Freedman, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in San Francisco, said in an interview. He has an outperform rating on Micron. “You have a significant benefit.”

Micron, based in Boise, Idaho, advanced 11 percent to $10.04 at the close in New York, after reporting revenue yesterday that exceeded estimates due to rising chip shipments. The shares have climbed 58 percent this year, compared with a 9.2 percent rise in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Deal Close

Micron and Elpida’s biggest competitors, Samsung Electronics Co. and SK Hynix Inc., have also seen their currency, the South Korean won, gain against the yen.

“It makes the operating equation much better for us than it was six to nine months ago,” Mark Adams, Micron’s president, said in an interview. “Because it’s a future event we don’t typically comment on it. But it’s a net positive thing to Micron.”

Freedman said he expects the deal to close within weeks.

Elpida, the last Japanese maker of computer-memory chips, sought bankruptcy protection last year after losses left it unable to pay debts. On Feb. 28, Elpida said it won Tokyo District Court approval for the sale to Micron, clearing the last major hurdle in the takeover. The required majority of creditors backed the plan, according to a statement from the trustees of the Tokyo-based company.

Currency Discount

Some of the discount on Elpida will be offset by currency hedges that Micron made to protect itself from a higher yen, Ron Foster, Micron’s chief financial officer, said on a conference call yesterday with analysts.

Micron, which has reported seven-straight quarterly losses, said yesterday that its second-quarter loss included a charge of $120 million due to currency hedges to guard against the possibility that the yen would appreciate and make the deal more expensive.

“Any reduction in purchase price will not be recognized on our balance sheet until the transaction has closed using the exchange value at that time,” Foster said in the call.

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