China's SMIC buying Hiroshima DRAM plant an option for Elpida: Nikkei

TOKYO Tue May 1, 2012 2:11am EDT

Elpida chips are seen at an electronic store in Tokyo's Akihabara district April 24, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Elpida chips are seen at an electronic store in Tokyo's Akihabara district April 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - China's Hony Capital plans to sell or outsource the operations at Elpida Memory's Hiroshima DRAM plant to Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) if its bid for the bankrupt Japanese chipmaker is successful, the Nikkei business daily said on Tuesday.

The scenario involving Hony, which is bidding along with fellow private equity firm TPG Capital, and China's top chipmaker, was drawn up by the Chinese government, the Nikkei said citing a banking source, and is one of a few being mentioned surrounding the takeover of Elpida.

Chipmakers such as U.S.-based Micron Technology, Japan's Toshiba Corp and South Korea's SK hynix, have all been linked to the auction for the world's third-largest maker of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips, in which second-round bids are due late this week.

Hony's parent, Legend Holdings, is also the top shareholder in Lenovo Group, which relies on DRAM chips from Elpida and Samsung Electronics for its computers and smartphones, the Nikkei wrote.

But price disputes with Samsung have led Lenovo to increase its dependence on Elpida for supply, causing Lenovo worries about chip supplies if Elpida fell into the hands of others, the Japanese paper added.

Representatives of Hony Capital were not available to comment on Tuesday, a May 1 holiday in many Asian countries.

Another plan under discussion involved a joint bid for Elpida, with SK hynix getting Elpida's main technology, Toshiba taking its Taiwan factory and U.S.-based GlobalFoundries receiving the Hiroshima plant, the Nikkei said.

Last week, a source close to Toshiba told Reuters the Japanese company would not participate in the second round of bidding after talks stalled on a joint bid with potential partners including SK hynix, but did not rule out joining up with the eventual winner of Elpida.

On Thursday, SK hynix said it is still reviewing the books of Elpida for a possible bid.

(Reporting by James Topham; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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