Infineon closes technology gap through International Rectifier takeover

August 20, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Infineon has announced to swallow International Rectifier for the amount of $3 billion. With the move, the Munich-based chipmaker intends to close its technology gap in the promising GaN segment. In addition, Infineon hopes to better utilize its 300mm wafer fab in Dresden to capacity.

According to an Infineon press release, IR already agreed to the takeover - after all, Infineon's bid amounted to a sum almost 50% higher than IR's average combined share price over the past three months. The IR Board of Directors as well as Infineon's Supervisory Board already approved the transaction.

In a press conference, Infineon board member Dominik Asam said the technology roadmaps of both companies are complementary - while Infineon has developed a strong position in the future-prone Silicon Carbide (SiC) technology, International Rectifier is among the world's leading companies with regards to Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology. Both material combinations are expected to enable the design of highly efficient power semiconductors, which in turn will play a major role in energy-saving strategies across all industries.

Also in terms of customer structure and product spectrums, the IR takeover closes gaps in Infineon's lineup. While Infineon in the first place directly serves very large customers (carmakers and automotive suppliers) and is not overly well represented in the distribution channels, IR has strongholds in distribution, addressing lots of small and medium-scale companies as customers. And there is a third aspect where both companies complement each other: Infineon's focus in terms of products is on high-voltage, high-power devices while IR has a broad spectrum of power semiconductors that address the medium and low voltage / power range. "This holds true for IGBTs as well as for MOSFETs", Asam said. As a result of the acquisition, the company will be able to broaden its product spectrum and address additional market segments.

In addition, the move is expected to generate economies of scale on the manufacturing side. Infineon announced to combine the existing manufacturing capabilities. In practice, this will lead to better utilisation of Infineon's 300mm wafer fab in Dresden, which is notoriously working below capacity. While the transition will take some time, "the (production) migration will go rather from IR's fabs to ours", Asam