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Micron really doesn’t seem interested in doing a deal with China’s Tsinghua

July 20, 2015, 6:27 PM UTC
Exterior views of the Micron building in Boise, Idaho, U.S., on Thursday, August 5, 2010. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg *** Local Caption ***

Remember in Mean Girls when Regina George, the Queen Bee turned to one of her peons and said, “Stop trying to make fetch, happen! It’s not going to happen.” Well, Micron is essentially pulling the same effort with the investment arm of China’s Tsinghua University as it tentatively seeks a $23 billion deal to buy the memory chip company. According to Reuters, Micron, based in Boise, Idaho, has told Tsinghua that it doesn’t see any way that the two could ever consummate a merger because the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) would never approve such a deal.

CFIUS reviews the national security implications of foreign investments in U.S. companies, ensuring that deals don’t give away valuable technology or place too much power in foreign hands. It eyes Chinese deals with particular scrutiny. It prevented China’s Huawei from buying a majority stake in networking company 3Com for example.

Micron may be right. One could argue that memory chips are a national security asset, although the U.S. manufactures plenty of semiconductors for communications overseas in fabs owned by foreign companies, even if the designs are developed here in the U.S. However, the story seems a bit silly, mostly because Tsinghua hasn’t actually formally made an offer for Micron, according to the Reuters story, nor has Micron formally hired an investment banker to field any such offer, lending all of this an air of petty high school drama or summertime efforts to float a deal. So given the drive for consolidation in semiconductors, is this a case of some bankers trying to make Micron “happen?”


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