As a result we expanded what was going to be a top-10 list to a top 15.

1) Tronics launches IPO

The year started quietly enough with MEMS company Tronics raising €12 million (about $13 million) by listing on the Euronext market (see Tronics launches IPO).

2) Omnivision turns Chinese

2015 was characterized by a lot of noise about China buying its way into the semiconductor industry. There was more noise than activity but one of the deals that looks set to go through is the acquisition of CMOS image sensor maker Omnivision Technologies Inc. (Santa Clara Calif.). OmniVision shareholders, who approved the deal in July, will receive about $1.9 billion. The transaction, which is expected to close before the end of April 2016, is still subject to regulatory approvals, including a US foreign ownership review (see OmniVision shareholders approve Seagull takeover).

3) Knowles buys Audience

In May it was announced that MEMS microphone supplier Knowles Corp. (Itasca, Illinois) would acquire Audience Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.) for $85 million net of a cash balance of $44 million (see Knowles buys Audience for $85 million). Audience was a provider of audio and noise suppression processors for Android equipment and in 2014 acquired software company Sensor Platforms for $41 million to help it expand into sound-plus-motion context awareness.

Next: From Arizona to Sweden

4) Microchip acquires Micrel

At the beginning of August, Microchip Technology Inc. (Chandler, Ariz.) completed its acquisition of Micrel Semiconductor Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) for about $840 million. While Microchip is best known as a microcontroller and specialist memory company Micrel brought a portfolio of linear and power management products, LAN solutions and timing and communications products to the deal (see Microchip to acquire Micrel).

It also saw the stepping down of Ray Zinn, who is the longest-serving CEO in Silicon Valley, having taken up the post when he co-founded Micrel in 1978.

5) AMS to rent wafer fab in New York

In 2015 AMS AG (Unterpremstaetten, Austria) was innovative not only in the chips it designed but also in its business dealings. In August, the mixed-signal and sensor IC specialist agreed a deal whereby it will rent a fully operational wafer fab built for it in by the State of New York for a period of 20 years (see AMS plans to rent a wafer fab in New York).

6) Analog Devices buys Sand 9

This deal nearly slipped through the net as nothing was announced and piezoelectric MEMS resonator startup Sand 9 Inc. (Cambridge, Mass.) went dark. But we were informed by multiple sources Sand 9 had been acquired by Analog Devices Inc. (Norwood, Mass.) in June 2015 (see Analog Devices is Sand 9 buyer

7) Silex Microsystems turns red

Another Chinese deal in 2015 was kept quiet for a few months but surfaced in September when it was revealed that Hong Kong investment holding company GAE Ltd. had acquired control of pure-play MEMS foundry Silex Microsystems AB (Jarfalla, Sweden). Not only that but the group had already started the construction of a wafer fab in Beijing to expand the company’s production capacity (see China buys Swedish MEMS foundry, builds fab).

Next: From Brussels to Silicon Valley

8) Sony picks up Softkinetic

In October Sony Corp. announced it had acquired privately held SoftKinetic Systems SA (Brussels, Belgium), a developer of ranging image sensor technology and gesture recognition software, for an undisclosed sum of money (see Sony acquires SoftKinetic for ranging technology).

9) Microsemi sees off Skyworks to win PMC-Sierra

In November Microsemi Corp. (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) entered into an agreement to acquired storage and networking IC vendor PMC-Sierra Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) for about $2.5 billion. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016 (see Microsemi sees off Skyworks to win PMC-Sierra).

10) On Semi set to acquire Fairchild

On December 14, Fairchild Semiconductor International, Inc. said that an unsolicited offer for the company from a firm backed by the Chinese government of $21.70 per share in cash (see Chinese group makes late bid for Fairchild) was not expected to result in a superior offer. That meant that On Semi’s agreed bid to buy Fairchild for $2.4 billion was still on (see On Semi set to buy Fairchild for $2.4 billion). The original deal at $20 per share had unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both On Semi and Fairchild and is expected to close late in the second quarter of 2016.

Next: From Dresden to Eindhoven

11) IDT set to acquire ZMD

The pace of M&A business was speeding up in the second half of 2015 and in December Integrated Device Technology Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) announced the completion of its acquisition of Zentrum Mikroelectronk Dresden for $307 million in cash (see IDT to acquire ZMDI for $310 million).

12) AMS swoops on CMOSIS

In January 2015 it was reported that CMOSIS (Antwerp, Belgium), a developer of advanced CMOS image sensors was considering an initial public offering of shares in the company (see Report: CMOSIS considering IPO). But by year-end Austrian mixed-signal IC and sensors manufacturer AMS had agreed to buy CMOSIS for about $200 million in cash (see AMS to spend $200 million on CMOSIS buy).

13) TDK set to buy Micronas

In December TDK Corp. (Tokyo, Japan) made a bid for Micronas Semiconductor Holding AG (Zurich, Switzerland) valued at about $225 million. The board of directors of Micronas is recommending the deal to shareholders which is expected to close early in March 2016 (see TDK bids for Micronas).

14) Dialog takes Atmel?

One major deal that is still up in the air is the takeover of Atmel Corp. by Dialog Semiconductor plc – or will it by Microchip Technology Inc.

Dialog had its bid of $4.6 billion accepted by Atmel as it saw off a potential rival bid from Cypress Semiconductor (see Dialog to acquire Atmel for $4.6 billion) only to see Microchip ride up with the another bid. As Dialog’ bid had been based partly on an offer of shares, which had fallen in value, a bid of $3.8 billion had to be looked at by Atmel’s board (see Microchip named as Atmel bidder). We are still awaiting the outcome but for now Dialog’s offer is still the recommended one. Atmel shareholders are due to vote on the Dialog deal in March 2016. 

15) The NXP/Freescale merger

We’ve left the biggest deal to last and its seems to have been a deal that has been going on throughout 2015.

At the beginning of March 2015 NXP and Freescale announced one of the biggest semiconductor industry consolidations to date. The deal would create the sixth largest chip vendor in the world with approximately $10 billion of annual sales (see NXP, Freescale plan mega merger). Eight months later at the beginning of December the deal was completed.

Related links and articles:

Ten deals that shaped analog, MEMS and sensors in 2014

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