UPDATE 1-Spreadtrum gets $1.38 bln buyout offer from China's Tsinghua Holdings

Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:46am EDT

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* Offer of $28.50 represents premium of 28 pct over Thursday close

* Shares up 21 pct premarket

June 21 (Reuters) - Chinese cellphone chip designer Spreadtrum Communications Inc said it received a $1.38 billion buyout proposal from a unit of government-owned Tsinghua Holdings Co Ltd.

The offer of $28.50 per American depository share represents a premium of 28 percent to Spreadtrum's Thursday closing price on the Nasdaq.

Spreadtrum said its board is evaluating the proposal.

The company develops chips for smartphones, feature phones and other consumer electronics products, supporting 2G, 3G and 4G wireless communications standards.

Spreadtrum, which gets most of its sales from China and Korea, counts HTC Corp and Samsung Electronics among its customers.

Lower-priced smartphones are popular in Asia and are expected to drive growth in the mobile handsets market as the United States reaches saturation.

China has more than 1 billion mobile phone subscribers, with many switching from low-end feature phones to smartphones in the past few years as prices become more affordable with some smartphones selling for less than 1,000 yuan ($160) apiece.

Research firm IDC had forecast that China's smartphone shipments are expected to rise sharply to 460 million by 2017 and will make up nearly all mobile phone sales.

Spreadtrum and other Asian rivals such as Mediatek are improving their technology and are happy to sacrifice profits in exchange for market share in Asia.

Last week, Spreadtrum raised its revenue estimates for the second quarter by $50 million to $270-$278 million citing higher demand from low-cost smartphone makers.

Spreadtrum shares rose 21 percent to $27 in premarket trading.

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