Winbond Subsidiary Takes Over Panasonic Sells IC Business to Taiwan

Erst kürzlich hatte Panasonic Batterie-Management-ICs auf Basis einer neuen Technik vorgestellt, die es erlauben soll, Li-Ionen-Batterien besser als bisher zu überwachen, wieder zu verwenden und zu recyceln. Jetzt verkauft Panasonic das Chip-Geschäft an Nuvoton.

Panasonic Semiconductor Solutions goes to the Taiwanese company Nuvoton, in which Winbond holds a 62 percent stake.

Nuvoton develops ARM-based controllers, audio ICs and power semiconductors. The company emerged from Winbond in 2008 and has been traded on the Taiwan Stock Exchange since 2008. In 2018, Nuvoton generated sales of $1.7 billion. Together with Winbond, Nuvoton operates a 6-inch and a 12-inch factory employing 4300 people.

For several years, Panasonic has tried to focus its IC business on the automotive market, but this strategy has obviously failed to lead the company to new growth. Actually, a positive result was the target for this year. Not least because of the trade war between China and the USA, however, demand fell and the company had to record a loss of 215 million dollars in this financial year. Management therefore decided to sell the company.

Over the past few years, Panasonic had tried to realign its semiconductor division. In 2014, Panasonic had outsourced wafer production to a joint venture formed with the Israeli Foundry Tower Semiconductor. The assembly activities were merged from Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia to Hong Kong. In 2015, the system LSI business went to Socionext and for this year it was planned to sell the discrete semiconductors to Rohm. 

In addition, the company has evolved from a supplier of chips for the consumer market to a manufacturer focusing on chips for use in cars. But the competitive situation has intensified, as Panasonic writes in its press release on the sale of the IC division. Nuvoton can now better benefit from the progress Panasonic has made in sensors such as CMOS image sensors, battery management ICs and MOSFETs for battery protection and is able to make the necessary investments to put the semiconductor unit on a growth path.

Panasonic entered the semiconductor manufacturing market in 1957. In the early 1990s, Panasonic was among the top ten semiconductor manufacturers in the world. At that time, Japanese chip manufacturers achieved a global market share of almost 50 percent. Now it is around 7 percent.