Chinese state-owned Tsinghua Unigroup revealed to the world press that it intends to become world's third biggest chip maker. Chairman Zhao Weiguo told Reuters that his company plans to invest 300 billion yuan ($47 billion) over the next five years and that it is in talks with a US-based chip company. A deal could be finalised by the end of the month but it will likely be a minority stake, he said, as a majority stake would likely be too sensitive for the US government.
In August, Tsinghua Unigroup made a $23 billion bid on Micron Technology but this offer was rejected amid national security concerns. Over the last two years, the group purchased stakes worth over $9.4 billion in Western Digital and Powertech Technology. Tsinghua Unigroup is keen on developing its NAND portfolio but has no plans for DRAM at the moment.
The sheer size of Tsinghua Unigroup's planned investments is almost equal to Intel's $50 billion chip revenue last year and could disrupt the NAND chip industry. The top five chipmakers control more than 90 percent of the global NAND chip market after years of boom-and-bust squeezed out smaller players.
Tsinghua Unigroup's investment drive comes after a two-year deal-making campaign to bolster China's fledgling chip industry, seen as a strategic priority for the Chinese government.
Beijing is keen to end China's reliance on foreign semiconductors as it seeks to build a modern, digitized armed forces capable of matching other advanced militaries.