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Record year for chip M&As

A new report from IC Insights shows that 2020 was a record year for M&A among chip companies, with total deals valued at $118bn breaking the previous record set back in 2015 when total deals were valued at $108bn.

While there were a host of smaller deals five big acquisitions pushed the total to an all time high. These 'Big Five' had a combined value of $94billion, which represented about 80% of the total for the entire year.

Up until the summer there had been only a few small scale acquisitions valued at just over $2bn, but in July when Analog Devices announced that it would be buying Maxim Integrated Products for $21 billion the floodgates started to open.

In the autumn Nvidia announced a $40 billion megadeal to buy processor-design technology supplier ARM from holding company SoftBank in Japan.

That was followed by Intel announcing the sale of its NAND flash memory business and 300mm wafer fab in China to SK Hynix in South Korea for $9 billion, and then Advanced Micro Device announced that it was to buy Xilinx for $35 billion.

Marvell Technology then announced it would be acquiring high-speed interconnect and mixed-signal IC supplier Inphi for $10 billion.

Most of these deals are scheduled to be completed this year and a number will have to go through a regulatory process.

So what’s been driving these acquisitions?

According to IC Insights these acquisitions have been driven by large IC companies looking to sharpen their positions in emerging and high-growth market opportunities, such as embedded machine-learning and AI capabilities, self-driving cars, all-electric vehicles, expansion of data centres for cloud-computing services and proliferation of the sensors and systems connected to Internet of Things.

And it’s likely that further consolidation, driven by similar considerations, can be expected in 2021.

Neil Tyler

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