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SI’s Lammers does nice blog on semi tool/materials M&A, but what about his own employer’s status?

12 August 2008 | By Tom Cheyney | Chip Shots

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Although David Lammers of Semiconductor International might be better known for his consummate "reportering" skills (with no apologies to George W), he's also a pretty good blogger when he gets around to it.

His latest posting, the snappily headlined "M&A Activity Picks Up in Downturn Dog Days," discusses the wave of mergers and acquisitions' goings-on in the semiconductor equipment and materials space over the past several months. In addition to his own observations, Dave gets good quote from industry sources like Gartner Dataquest's Dean Freeman and Entegris' John Goodman about certain done deals (like Entegris' snap-up of Poco Graphite) as well as some of the behind-the-scenes M&A rustlings (ASMI vs. AMAT).

In addition to his musings, Dave has put together a handy hyperlink list of 20+ M&A-related headlines going back to mid-April, from Jordan Valley's move to scoop up fellow x-ray metrology vendor Bede to Carl Zeiss SMT's recent bid to acquire Israeli photomask specialists, Pixer Technology. (Hmmm, the list starts and ends with metrology companies, and also includes the check-writing activities of KLA-Tencor, Nanometrics, and Agilent in the same domain. Nothing like sector consolidation during a downturn!)

The biggest deal by far on the M&A hit parade remains Dow Chemical's bid to buy fellow materials purveyor Rohm und Haas for a whopping $19 billion in cash (well, at least cash for R&H's shares).

One company that's also been the talk of the M&A crowd, albeit in a different market, is Dave's own employer, Reed Business Information (RBI), a unit of megamedia corporation, Reed Elsevier. In addition to Semiconductor International and the other remaining properties of what was once Cahners Publishing, RBI's holdings include New Scientist, Daily Variety, Test and Measurement World, and scores more.

After announcing its intent to sell off RBI in late February, the parent company hasn't had much to say about any potential deals--until the past few weeks. The UK's Sunday Telegraph reported in mid-July that there had been two-dozen "expressions of interest" by potential buyers, while reports in Saturday's (Aug. 9) London Times say that the first round of bidding was to have closed yesterday (Monday), with private-equity players like Cinven, Apollo, and Bain Capital in the mix.

Reed-Elsevier's CEO Sir Crispin "Could I get a few of your crisps" Davis reportedly told employees that he "hoped to complete the sale [of RBI] in the second half of the year." In the PR announcing the parent's most recent quarterly results, Sir Crisps said, "The planned divestment of Reed Business Information is progressing, and we are seeing strong buyer interest in the business."

Those familiar with the particulars have put the likely asking price in the neighborhood of a cool billion quid (that's $2 billion in real money). The Crispy One's own comments have also given legs to the possibility that RBI might be sold off in pieces or to a group who might break it up after purchase.

The ultimate fate of Dave and the rest of the SI team remains in doubt while the dealmakers work the dog-and-pony circuit, but I would be quite surprised if whoever ends up buying RBI--or the bits of old Cahners that might include my colleagues' trade mag/site--decides to pull the plug on such a prestigious franchise as Semiconductor International.

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Reader comments

Really this man is different. He really is a very good at blogs. His skills are very seasoned. He is working in a great company.
By windows hosting on 13 October 2008

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