March 1, 2015 / 9:39 PM / in 3 years

Exclusive: NXP nears deal for Freescale Semiconductor - sources

The logo of Freescale Semiconductor Inc is seen at the entrance of the plant in Toulouse, southwestern France, April 24, 2009. REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles

(Reuters) - NXP Semiconductors NV is close to a deal to acquire smaller peer Freescale Semiconductor Ltd in a $40 billion cash and stock merger that will reshape the semiconductor industry, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Such a deal would represent the clearest sign yet that semiconductor companies are regaining the confidence required to pursue big mergers at a time when their major clients, such as mobile phone manufacturers, seek to consolidate suppliers.

Freescale has little exposure to most segments of the mobile and consumer markets. By acquiring it, however, NXP would be expanding in the auto and industrial markets and would be diversifying its business further.

NXP is finalizing a deal to pay a little over Freescale’s $11 billion current market capitalization, the people said. Including debt, the combined company will have a value of around $40 billion, the people added.

A deal could come as early as Monday, although the negotiations could still fall apart, the people said.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. NXP and Freescale did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, NXP has operations in more than 25 countries and reported revenue of $5.7 billion in 2014. Austin-based Freescale also has operations in more than 25 countries and had net sales of $4.6 billion in 2014.

NXP’s portable device and computer business is growing quickly, with its revenue up 46 percent year-on-year to $712 million in 2014. But its bigger automotive and chip identification businesses, which together account for a little less than half its revenue, grew by only 12 to 13 percent.

Freescale reported adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of $1.1 billion in 2014, up from $893 million the year before. The company has said it expects its sales in the automotive and wireless infrastructure markets to increase further.

Freescale went public in 2011 after it was taken private in 2006 for $17.6 billion in a leveraged buyout by a group of private equity firms that included Blackstone Group LP, Carlyle Group LP, Permira Advisers LLC and TPG Capital LP. The buyout firms still own 64 percent of Freescale.

Reporting by Nadia Damouni in New York; Editing by Greg Roumeliotis and Nick Zieminski

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