Infineon CEO admits auto-chip biz may be a takeover target

German company is still looking for acquisitions, but may soon cash in its chips


Former Siemens chip company Infineon may find itself on the shopping list of a bigger semiconductor company, thanks to its strength in automotive.

Consolidation and specialisation has been the order of the day in the semiconductor industry, with fewer companies for each type of component. Where once there were a dozen or so companies – including Infineon – making mobile phone modems and application processors, the only players now are Qualcomm, MediaTek and handset makers' own solutions.

Infineon boss Dr Reinhard Ploss told the Financial Times [paywall] that not only was he looking to acquire smaller companies, he could envisage Infineon being bought by a larger company, and thanks to recent mergers there are a lot of those about.

One of Infineon’s great strengths is automotive and with electronics becoming a significant part of a car's bill of materials, it’s a lucrative market. It is also very much less dynamic than consumer electronics, with a much more long term procurement process and stable and predictable demand. Motor manufacturers like to keep the same components in a model all the way through its life. From sign-off to end-of-life can be ten years. While infotainment systems might well get a mid-life refresh, the types of system where Infineon has a strong market position, such hydraulic clutch control and braking systems, often don’t get refreshed.

Ploss told the FT: “There is one risk: we are busy in highly attractive markets. That is a strength, but maybe we should be aware that people might be interested in Infineon because of that market position.”

Infineon has built on its automotive pedigree by moving into the hybrid and electric market through the $3bn purchase of the US company International Rectifier, which within its large portfolio has main powertrain inverters, auxiliary motor drives, battery management, DC-DC conversion and chargers.

One of the main rivals in the automotive space is NXP, which recently bought Freescale for $11.8bn. Despite the component market being international, the dominance of the German car brands – VW alone has eight car brands and Ducati motorcycles – has no doubt helped Munich-based Infineon.

With a new emphasis on car security, there are increasing budgets from the motor manufacturers. So while Ploss wants to be the acquirer, he appreciates that others will be fishing for his chip company. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022