DOJ probing Applied Materials-Tokyo Electron deal

|By:, SA News Editor

Applied Materials (AMAT) discloses the DOJ has provided it with a request for additional info related to its planned merger with fellow chip equipment giant Tokyo Electron (TOELF). AMAT still expects the deal to close in mid-2014 or 2H14.

Many have expected the Applied-Tokyo deal would face close scrutiny, given it stands to create a company with a dominant position in several chip equipment markets, and a total industry share (25.5% in 2012, per Gartner) roughly twice that of #2 ASML (12.8% 2012 share).

Morningstar's Andy Ng notes Applied/Tokyo will have a 40% or higher share in six markets - including the key etch (46% 2012 share) and deposition (59%) markets, which are expected to see solid growth as chipmakers ramp production of 3D NAND flash memory and chips featuring 3D/FinFET transistors. Lam Research (LRCX +0.4%) is Applied/Tokyo's biggest rival in each market.

Nonetheless, Ng argues chipmakers will back the deal, given the rising cost/complexity of chip manufacturing and the need for equipment vendors with huge R&D resources and diverse skill sets.