Aixtron Said in Talks for Sale to Chinese Investor Group

  • Deal said to possibly value company at about 620 million euros
  • JPMorgan is working with German company to vet offers

Aixtron SE, a German equipment supplier to the semiconductor industry, is in talks to sell itself to a Chinese private equity investor group, according to people familiar with the matter.

The private equity fund is backed by Hong-Kong based investment firm Buttonwood Finance Ltd., two of the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. The parties aim to reach an agreement in the coming weeks, the people said.

A deal may value Aixtron at about 5.50 euros a share, or about 620 million euros ($695 million), though the price hasn’t been finalized, one person said. Aixtron has a market capitalization of about 535 million euros. No final decision has been made and talks may still falter, the people said.

Aixtron shares closed 10 percent up in Frankfurt, after climbing as much as 15 percent.

A spokesman for Aixtron declined to comment. Buttonwood Finance didn’t respond to requests for comment outside of regular business hours.

A purchase by Chinese investors would allow Aixtron, which is grappling with the loss of its largest customer, access to the Chinese market and funds to further develop its product portfolio. Aixtron’s 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 company is working with long-time financial adviser JPMorgan Chase & Co. to find potential buyers amid more difficult conditions for chipmakers, people familiar with the matter said in March.

Semiconductor companies have been combining as they face 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 2015.

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