No Chips, Plenty Of Capital: Inside Record Setting Semiconductor M&A


There aren’t nearly enough chips to go around, but there’s plenty of attention and capital absolutely flying around the semiconductor industry at the moment. It’s no surprise, given the huge role these small chips play in our lives, that the industry has set records as far as mergers and acquisitions in recent years.

Let’s take a quick look at the numbers.

Semiconductor Mergers and Acquisitions

We started 2022 off with a bang when AMD completed its nearly $50B acquisition of Xilinx, setting a semiconductor industry record. To put that in perspective, its price tag is nearly half of 2020’s record setting total of $117.9B in M&A activity. 

More mergers and acquisitions of note include:

The deals had myriad reasons–Marvell gained valuable 5G market share, while Intel bolstered manufacturing capability with its purchase of Tower and used the cash from the SSD sale to invest in R&D. Entering a new market or bolstering market share through acquisition is a time-tested business strategy that makes particular sense here, given the expense and timelines of new fabs.

Businesses are also looking to add resilience and stability to their supply chains after the all too familiar disruptions of COVID-19 showed the wisdom of geographic and supplier diversity, as well as the benefits of in-house capabilities.

It’s not all milk and honey for mergers and acquisitions, though. In the end, some of the biggest deals end up becoming the biggest failures. Take the planned acquisition of UK chip design firm Arm by US technology titan Nvidia. It was supposed to be the largest deal in semiconductor history when it was announced in September 2020.

But, as chips become essential for more critical industries like healthcare and defense, governments start paying more attention. Arm licenses their design technology to a number of Nvidia’s competitors like Qualcomm and Huawei, and the idea of Nvidia taking them over triggered US and UK watchdogs to each open their own investigations, ultimately tying the deal down in red tape. Nvidia abandoned the deal last month.

They are not alone.

GlobalWafers, a Taiwanese silicon wafer supplier, failed in their efforts to buy German chip manufacturer Siltronic earlier this year, when German regulators failed to complete a review in time, with concerns over tech sovereignty said to be the cause of their intentional inaction.

And back in 2018, before the great shortage, Qualcomm came up short in its bid to take over Dutch chipmaker NXP, when the deal failed to get Chinese antitrust approval. The government there had veto power over the deal since ⅔ of Qualcomm’s sales come from China.

Lessons And Looking Forward

Outside of the deals involving critical technology, governments seem on board with mergers as evidenced by some of the recently closed megadeals. Expect more consolidation, especially when defense isn’t involved. This is a good opportunity to explore how a simplified supply chain could help your business ensure a steady supply of critical components.

Maybe a merger isn’t on the horizon for you, but is there a partnership that could give you access to new markets? Could a strategic alliance streamline your operations or boost margin on critical components? In our fast moving world of electronics, putting options like this on the table will get you poised for success in 2022.

It’s an exciting time for semiconductors. They’re making tomorrow’s future possible and people are taking notice. We’re excited to see what the rest of 2022 brings and how the landscape will change in the future.

To say ahead of industry trends and secure always-on market intelligence for your supply chain, explore our Commodity IQ solution today

Paul McNamara
Paul McNamara
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