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Aixtron denies rumors amid surging share price

Takeover speculation surrounds the German deposition equipment provider as its share price soars, despite denials and tight lips all around.

Rumors emerged on April 10 from the Frankfurt stock exchange that Aixtron would be the target of a takeover bid, either from US semiconductor equipment manufacturer Applied Materials Inc, or Dutch CVD process equipment provider ASM International.

ASM apparently quickly denied any interest, whilst Applied Materials policy is not to comment directly on any such speculation.

Aixtron also moved quickly to deny any knowledge of a takeover bid.

Aixtron's head of investor relations Guido Pickert told compoundsemiconductor.net that Applied Materials has not been in contact with his company at all, let alone to make a takeover bid.

“Aixtron are a good company,” he explained, “We don't need a takeover to move forward, we are ready for the LED market to explode over the next five years.”

“Everything is industry driven; the final solar and LED applications are not in our hands, whatever is the growth area we are ready to deliver the right technologies where they're needed, but that's all.”

This year, the company's share price has risen from €3.33 on January 2, to over €7 on April 16th on the Frankfurt exchange.

On the Nasdaq index it has risen from $4.83 on January 3 to over $9.40 on April 16.

These attention-grabbing figures have raised Aixtron s profile with investors and may have combined with recent merger and acquisition activity in Germany, by the likes of Puma and DaimlerChrysler, to bring about these rumors.

Applied Materials director for worldwide media relations, David Miller, reiterated the company's business outlook, which did not rule out acquisitions in general.

“Applied is certainly pursuing a strategy to expand in the solar power area, which is focused on improving conversion efficiency of cells as well as manufacturing and yield by leveraging our core expertise from semiconductor and flat panel manufacturing,” he commented.

“We will develop much of this capability in-house but may also look to acquiring or partnering with outside firms that have particular expertise that supplement our existing capabilities or bring new ones to our company.”

When asked about a potential merger between Applied Materials and Aixtron independent analyst Robert Maire, of investment bank Needham and Co., said, “From a strategic and logical point of view it makes sense.”

“Applied is the biggest semiconductor equipment maker in the world "“ it's good at taking on other companies' technology and developing it.”

He also commented that, having bought Applied Films and entered the solar panel market, Applied Materials could now look at using its flat panel technology to produce “one big diode, instead of lots of little pixels”.

Applying the kind of compound semiconductor materials, where Aixtron has its core expertise, to solar cell manufacture may give the higher energy conversions considered the “holy grail” in the industry, Maire pointed out.

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