Top deals in 2020

December 22, 2020 // By Peter Clarke
A baker's dozen of the deals that shaped 2020
Consolidation in the electronics and semiconductor sectors was still a driver in 2020, despite the distraction of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deals aplenty included some blockbusters, although which ones can get beyond the US-China trade friction remains an open question. With the rising significance of the Chinese market it is increasingly the case that without the approval of the Chinese authorities a deal may not be worth doing.

Here is a list of 13 deals, in roughly chronological order:

1) SK Hynix buys into a foundry

South Korea's SK Hynix Inc. is a major DRAM and NAND flash memory manufacturer but it has been concerned for a while that it needs to diversify into logic so that it is less prone to the rollercoaster ride of the memory market. In March 2020 SK Hynix moved in a small way acquiring an established business and fab (see SK Hynix buys MagnaChip foundry business, Fab 4).

2) NXP helps Globalfoundries

This isn't an M&A deal but a piece of internal European business that became yet more significant later in the year.

As is well known Europe lacks leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing capability and the closest it gets to it is Intel in Leixlip, Ireland and Globalfoundries in Dresden, Germany. But for certain key components on-continent manufacturing is considered important. What to do as certain wafer fabs in Europe mature and become obsolete?

NXP Semiconductors helped Globalfoundries' wafer fab in Dresden pass the necessary tests. In April the German Federal Office for Information Security (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik, BSI) certified the Globalfoundries' site in Dresden meets the Common Criteria standard. This allowed Globalfoundries to produce chips for financial transactions, smart cards, digital ID and products for the public sector that require an extra level of security and integrity in the production process (see NXP helps GloFo gain European trusted manufacturing status).

3) The sound of money

There has been a scramble to get into the hearables market over the last couple of years. In June, wireless chipset vendor DSP Group Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) made a bid for a Swiss audio specialist SoundChip SA (Lausanne, Switzerland) who had been plying their trade independently (see DSP Group buys SoundChip for noise canceling expertise).

Next: From the UK to China

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