Chinese Group to Buy Europe’s Aixtron for $752 Million

  • Germany’s Aixtron makes equipment for semiconductor industry
  • Chip companies have been consolidating to bolster profits

A group of Chinese investors agreed to buy Aixtron SE, a German supplier of semiconductor equipment, for about 670 million euros ($752 million), giving the manufacturer a chance to boost sales by expanding in Asia.

The deal values Aixtron at 6 euros a share, the equipment maker said Monday in a statement. That’s 25 percent more than the closing price of 4.79 euros on May 20 in German trading. The offer is being made through a unit of Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund that is 51 percent owned by Zhendong Liu, a Chinese businessman, Aixtron said.

The purchase may allow Aixtron access to the Chinese market and funds to further develop its product portfolio, after losing its largest customer last year. 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.

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.

Shares of Aixtron advanced 17 percent to 5.60 euros at 9:03 a.m. in Frankfurt.

Aixtron may attract other bidders because of its focus on promising new applications and technologies, analysts at Kepler Cheuvreux said in a note. In such a scenario, the price may end up being as high as 9 euros a share, they said.

Aixtron had been 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.

Fujian Grand plans to support Aixtron’s strategy going forward and keep its headquarters location and chief executive officer in place, according to the statement.

The remainder of Fujian Grand is owned by an investment vehicle controlled by private investors Zhongyao Wang and Wanming Huang, Aixtron said. The takeover offer has a minimum acceptance rate of 60 percent of Aixtron shares.

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