Thursday, February 19, 2015

ALD is a too powerful technology for The Merger

Bildergebnis für applied material tokyo electron

The Fair Trade Commission in Korea (FTC) said Monday that it will conditionally approve the proposed merger between Tokyo Electron and Applied Materials next month.

"The FTC reached a consensus to approve the Tokyo Electron-Applied Materials deal in Korea, next month, as previous rounds of talks resulted in limiting competition in certain business areas that the merged entity had huge bargaining power in," said an FTC official.

The official said the FTC is discussing with regulators in six countries including the United States and Japan to fix terms of details before agreeing the deal.

The Korean regulator recently held a secret meeting with top executives of local semiconductor parts suppliers to brief them on its decision for a conditional approval.

"Samsung Electronics and SK hynix submitted their views to the regulator over the possible impact on the local semiconductor industry after the deal approves. The merged unit guaranteed not to hurt fair competition," said another official.

Samsung Electronics and SK hynix declined to comment.

The two semiconductor majors as well as local parts suppliers initially objected to the Tokyo Electron-Applied Materials deal as Applied has already secured more than a 20 percent share in the Korean semiconductor equipment market.

These companies have expressed concerns about bundling and pricing power post-merger.

The Korea Semiconductor Industry Association (KSIA) has hired Bae, Kim and Lee (BKL) to represent domestic semiconductor players in arguing for concessions.

Applied Materials has retained Kim & Chang, the top foreign-to-foreign merger lawyer to negotiate with the FTC.

"The remedy has included a plan by the merged unit not to launch combined chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and atomic layer deposition (ALD) businesses in Korea. The merged unit plans to establish new entities for fair competition, if necessary," said the official.

Data from Gartner, a research firm, said Applied Materials was the global top semiconductor equipment supplier with 16.2 percent share by last year, followed by Tokyo Electron with 9.1 percent. That means that the combined share of the two will go over 25.3 percent.

"In principle, the FTC determines whether a proposed transaction substantially restricts competition in a particular market by considering multiple factors such as the market concentration before and after the business combination, possibility of joint conduct among competitors, possibility of new entrants, existence of similar goods and adjacent markets, increase in the entry barrier and foreclosure of competitors," said Gerald Foo, an analyst at Market Securities in London.

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