July 23, 2015 / 4:38 AM / 2 years ago

Tsinghua Holdings chief says still in Micron talks, hopeful on deal

TAIPEI (Reuters) - China’s Tsinghua Holdings is still discussing a potential deal to buy U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology Inc (MU.O) and hopes it could eventually go through, the state-backed investment company’s chairman told Reuters on Thursday.

Memory chip parts of U.S. memory chip maker MicronTechnology are pictured at their booth at an industrial fair in Frankfurt, Germany, in this July 14, 2015 file photo. China's Tsinghua Holdings is still discussing a potential deal to buy U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology Inc and hopes it could eventually go through, the state-backed investment company's chairman told Reuters on July 23, 2015. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/Files

Sources told Reuters earlier this week that Micron has dismissed an informal $23 billion offer from Tsinghua Unigroup, a private equity subsidiary of Tsinghua Holdings, on the presumption that a deal would be blocked by U.S. regulators.

The mooted takeover of the last remaining U.S. dynamic memory chipmaker would be the largest foreign deal by a Chinese company. But analysts on both sides of the Pacific have downplayed its likelihood, citing U.S. national security concerns.

Xu Jinghong, chairman of Tsinghua Holdings, said he remained hopeful, although his firm has not held any discussions with U.S. regulators about Micron.

“It would be of great significance to China’s domestic semiconductor industry,” Xu told Reuters, speaking on the sidelines of a business event in Taipei. “We hope the deal can eventually come through.”

Xu added that his firm has not received any directive from Chinese government about the potential offer.

Over the past year Tsinghua Unigroup has consolidated China’s semiconductor sector and received financial backing from the state to close the technological gap with industry leaders like Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O).

Still, the company has been wary about being seen as an extension of China’s government, and says its acquisitions have all been carried out with private capital.

The political context is seen as the biggest hurdle to a prospective deal: Micron has told Tsinghua its offer is not realistic because U.S. authorities would block the deal due to national security concerns, according to people familiar with the matter.

Additional reporting by Gerry Shih in BEIJING; Writing by Faith Hung; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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