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IQE to buy RFMD MBE manufacturing unit

The firm has also secured a seven year wafer supply agreement. The new aquisition will enable IQE to enhance its position in the CPV solar market

IQE plc. has signed a multi-faceted agreement to acquire the entire in-house MBE epi-wafer manufacturing unit of RFMD. The plant contains 16 operational MBE tools. The firm has also secured a seven year wafer supply agreement for exclusive provision of all of RFMD’s MBE wafers and for provision of a majority of RFMD’s MOCVD wafer requirements. IQE says this puts it in a powerful position in CPV market with up to $35 million revenue capacity for CPV wafers. The consideration is effectively funded through future wafer discounts. Drew Nelson, President and CEO of IQE, comments, " This landmark agreement with RFMD, one of the true global leaders in the wireless semiconductor industry, provides us with a significant step up in our manufacturing capacity, bringing substantial financial and scale benefits to the Group. This is a clear win-win for both organisations." “The deal secures IQE world class epi-wafer production assets and staff, together with a long term wafer supply agreement, further strengthening our leadership position in the supply of wafers to the global wireless industry," he continues. “The spare capacity currently existing within the transferred facilities will be applied to the manufacture of CPV solar wafers, enabling IQE to rapidly build a global leadership position in the supply of wafers for the burgeoning CPV sector as a result of our previously announced agreement and exclusive supply contract with CPV technology partner Solar Junction,” concludes Nelson. The assets being transferred to IQE include a fully fitted clean room of over 90,000 square foot, 16 MBE manufacturing systems and equipment, all housed in a 135,000 square foot stand-alone building in Greensboro, North Carolina. The value of the transferred assets is approximately $27 million. The local management and employees for the unit, consisting of 70 people will also be transferred directly to IQE. There will be no upfront cash outlay for the transfer of the assets, resulting in no IQE shareholder dilution. In exchange for the transfer of the assets, the parties have agreed to a long term wafer supply agreement with a minimum purchase commitment of $55 million over the first two years, whereby IQE will supply all MBE wafer requirements and a majority of RFMD’s MOCVD wafer requirements under a discounted pricing arrangement. The transaction will result in major enhancements across all key Group activities, particularly in our products for the wireless sector through increased purchasing power and greater manufacturing efficiencies. IQE intends to use unallocated capacity from this facility to rapidly accelerate its wafer supply to meet the dramatically growing demand for CPV Solar products in relation to the technology transfer and exclusive wafer supply agreement with Solar Junction, announced earlier this year. This is expected to allow the wafer production of solar products of up to $35 million annually without the need for significant up-front capital expenditures by IQE. The transaction will be immediately revenue and earnings enhancing to IQE, whilst free cash flow generation will reflect the discounted wafer pricing agreed between the parties. Similarly, RFMD expects the outsourced wafer supply model to improve its operating performance by lowering its manufacturing costs, improving its return on invested capital, and supporting more predictable financial results. The transaction is expected to close within a few days.

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