August 28, 2015 / 5:53 AM / 5 years ago

China's Unigroup chairman visiting U.S. to discuss Micron bid: sources

Memory chip parts of U.S. memory chip maker MicronTechnology are pictured at their booth at an industrial fair in Frankfurt, Germany, July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) - The chairman of China’s Tsinghua Unigroup traveled to the United States this week to meet with board members of Micron Technology (MU.O) and try to revive a politically fraught takeover bid of the U.S. chipmaker, people familiar with the matter said.

Micron dismissed an informal $23 billion offer by state-backed investment firm Unigroup in July on the presumption that the U.S. regulatory committee that reviews foreign acquisitions of sensitive U.S. companies would block the deal on national security concerns, sources have said.

In August, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York called on the inter-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to reject Tsinghua’s acquisition attempt, citing Micron’s role in making chips used in U.S weapons systems.

Republican U.S. Senator John McCain had raised national security concerns in July from the proposed deal.

But Unigroup chairman Zhao Weiguo’s visit reflects a belief within the Tsinghua camp that there is still hope for what would be the largest foreign deal by a Chinese company and a major step for the nation’s modest but up-and-coming chip industry.

Zhao will also make a stop in Washington to meet with policy experts familiar with the CFIUS approval process, one of the sources said. Zhao is expected to return to Beijing next week.

Idaho-based Micron is the last major U.S.-based manufacturer of so-called dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips, which are used in personal computers. In recent months Tsinghua has continued its pursuit of Micron despite the U.S. company’s rebuffs.

After the $23 billion offer was rejected by Micron in July, Xu Jinhong, chairman of Unigroup’s parent company Tsinghua Holdings, told Reuters that Tsinghua had not given up, saying he hoped the deal “could eventually come through”.

Reporting by Krista Hughes in WASHINGTON and Gerry Shih in BEIJING; Additional reporting by Noel Randewich in SAN FRANCISCO and Liana Baker in NEW YORK; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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