AMD's Spansion sets IPO offer range

@ 2005/11/05
Flash-memory arm seeks to raise $835 million

By Matt Andrejczak, MarketWatch
Last Update: 2:46 PM ET Nov 4, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- The flash-memory unit of Advanced Micro Devices Inc. aims to raise around $835 million through an initial public offering of stock and debt, according to a filing Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Spansion, which makes flash-memory chips used in mobile phones and other consumer electronics, plans to sell 35.3 million Class A shares priced in a range of $16 to $18 each. It also intends to offer 8 million shares of convertible preferred stock at $25 each.

Separately, Spansion will offer $400 million of senior unsecured notes in a private placement. Citigroup and Credit Suisse First Boston are the lead underwriters for the IPO initially filed back in April. The timing of the deal has not been set.

Spansion's IPO price estimate signals it's moving closer to a stock-market debut on the Nasdaq as other chip firms begin to venture out. Israeli flash-memory chipmaker Saifun Semi is in line to debut its IPO in coming days, along with chipmaker Passave. Read more.

If completed, the Spansion deal would mark a big step forward for AMD (AMD) in its bid to step up competition against Intel Corp. (INTC), the world's biggest purveyor of computer chips.

This year, AMD has released a new crop of computer and server chips that are showing promise. Analysts speculate the Spansion IPO could supply a big boost for AMD's stock over the next two years.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD, the No. 2 maker of computer chips behind Intel, is spinning off Spansion so it can concentrate on selling chips that power desktop computers, laptops and servers.

Spansion has been a drag on AMD's profit. For the year to date, the unit has racked up $250 million in operating losses due to pricing pressure from Intel and product delays -- something that may dampen enthusiasm for the IPO. AMD hasn't said whether the unit will be profitable in the fourth quarter.

The unit designs memory chips known as NOR flash, which stores data in phones and other consumer electronics even when the device is turned off.

Sales have been improving the past two quarters, and AMD estimates Spansion will achieve revenue in the fourth quarter above the $516 million generated in the quarter ended Sept. 25.

Spansion is 60% owned by AMD and 40% owned by Fujitsu, the Japanese electronics giant.

The companies have helped boost sales at Spansion by agreeing to reduce the distribution margin its sales teams' take on the sale of memory products. In addition, Spansion is paying a reduced royalty fee for use of AMD's and Fujitsu's intellectual property, helping to reduce the cost of sales, according to the IPO filing.

In the last six months, AMD has started to make some inroads into Intel's share of the market for PC and server chips.

By the end of the third quarter, AMD's share of the desktop market reached 20% for the first time since 2001, while its share of the laptop market hit 12.3%, up 2.4% from the three months ended June 30, according to data from Mercury Research.

AMD's share of x86 server chip market has grown to 12.7%, up from 11.2% in the second quarter, Mercury Research said.

Comment from Sidney @ 2005/11/05
Instead of buying AMD processor for X'mas, I'd use the money to buy AMD stock instead. I wish I had put all my money on AMD early this year; Almost 80% in return.

 

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