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TriQuint snaps up WJ design talent

Fabless GaAs design company WJ Communications is set to come under the wing of wafer manufacturing giant TriQuint Semiconductor.

TriQuint Semiconductor is to acquire fabless RFIC design company WJ Communications, in a deal valued at approximately $72 million.

The acquisition will primarily boost TriQuint s presence in the wireless infrastructure market, where WJ s chips and multi-chip modules (MCMs) are used in base station amplifiers.

WJ has also managed to penetrate the Chinese base station market, which uses the local 3G protocol called time division synchronous code division multiple access (TD-SCDMA). In January of this year, WJ announced that it had received an initial production order worth $0.5 million for its InGaP HBT-based MCMs, to be used in TD-SCDMA applications.

CEO Ralph Quinsey believes that although WJ s is a much smaller enterprise than TriQuint s, the combination will prove highly complementary.

"In summary, one plus one makes more than two in this case," Quinsey said. "We re delighted to have a Silicon Valley design center."

Based in the heart of Silicon Valley, WJ "“ formerly known as Watkins-Johnson "“ closed its GaAs fabrication facility a year ago in a move designed to cut costs (see related story).

Prior to that, it had been working closely with the high-end pure-play GaAs foundry Global Communication Semiconductors (GCS), which is based further south in Torrance.

TriQuint also has expertise in high-power GaAs and GaN devices for wireless base stations, but while it has generally focused on devices in excess of 30 W power, WJ has concentrated on GaAs amplifiers rated at below 30 W.

And although TriQuint will have the option of switching wafer manufacturing for WJ out of the GCS foundry and into one of its own GaAs fabs, Quinsey said that the amount of disruption that this would involve did not justify making the transfer.

Welcoming WJ s pool of RF design talent to the TriQuint fold, the CEO remarked on the wider difficulty of hiring top designers, saying: "We couldn t hire RF designers fast enough. [And] finding high-performance solutions is all about talent."

TriQuint expects the deal to be ratified by WJ shareholders and regulatory bodies within the next 90 days.

In its most recent financial quarter, WJ posted a net loss of $0.8 million on sales of $10.6 million.

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