GlobalFoundries Refutes Sales Rumors as Crown Prince Visits

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Earlier this month, we reported on rumors that part or all of GlobalFoundries might be up for sale. The semiconductor foundry entertained the crown prince of Abu Dhabi on February 28 at its Singapore campus and contacted us at the same time to refute those rumors directly.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed toured the company’s Singapore facilities, which were acquired in the merger with Chartered nearly a decade ago. These facilities are larger 200mm fabs, focused on older nodes, automotive, and RF technology. Such facilities have been in higher demand than one might think, however. Increased demand for automotive manufacturing and IoT demand have driven a spike in 200mm wafer demand. Shipments of MEMS and sensor devices are expected to rise by 25 percent by 2022.

“The technologies manufactured here in Singapore are enabling a new era of innovation in a world that now has billions of connected devices,” said Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority and CEO of Mubadala Investment Company. “With its focused and inspirational leadership and a clear strategy for value creation, GLOBALFOUNDRIES continues to be an integral part of Mubadala’s portfolio.”

According to a GlobalFoundries spokesperson that we spoke to, there is “no truth” to rumors that the company has been put up for sale or that the owners were looking for an exit strategy. The visit to GF appears to have been part of an overall technology tour; Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed also recently toured a Samsung facility and saw that company’s leading-edge foundry technology.

The Korean press has speculated that a round of joint meetings between Samsung executives and the Sheikh means that Samsung could be poised to acquire GF, even as Samsung roundly disputes the statement. “GlobalFoundries could be attractive in terms of securing a bigger market share and winning more customers, but it’s not what Samsung is going to do,” said an official. “Rather than simply taking over the market share, the company is looking for much higher levels of technologies.”

GF’s willingness to deny the rumor point-blank would seem to put the kibosh on this idea, and it’s true that any sale would be exceedingly complex. Mainland Chinese buyers wouldn’t likely pass muster with the US due to security concerns. TSMC hasn’t shown any particular interest in a deal, and international regulators might have concerns about allowing the world’s largest foundry to eat its second-largest competitor. If Samsung, TSMC, and mainland Chinese buyers are all off the table, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of players with the funding or interest in swallowing the firm.

GF recently announced that it had developed automotive grade IP solutions with Synopsys for its 22FDX technology. Rambus has similarly stated it has developed a 32G SerDes PHY for the same technology node. GF also announced a partnership with Dolphin Integration to develop new solutions on 22FDX as well. The company’s 12FDX platform remains under development.

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