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A European buyer for Motorola's chip division?

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Will Motorola's processor division be bought by European STMicroelectronics?

The indiscretion spread today fueled by unspecified indirect confirmations that come from managers of the same STMicroelectronics and by the fact that Pasquale Pistorio, CEO of the company of the old continent, was one of Motorola's main managers for 17 years.

A few months ago Pistorio had explicitly said that it was ST's intention to make a purchase in Asia or the USA to increase the company's market size and therefore also its competitiveness.

ST, the third largest processor manufacturer in the world, Motorola ranks seventh with a turnover of approximately $ 5 billion in the field of chips. The merger would result in the world's second largest manufacturer in the field behind Intel and Toshiba.

STMicroelectronics immediately after the diffusion of the indiscretions has firmly denied having opened a dialogue on the possible merger of the respective semiconductor divisions but the denials are not supported by journalistic sources that instead confirm that a discussion table has been set up and that a conclusion, in positive or in the negative, it could arrive by the beginning of 2003. The only detail still uncertain, according to some journalists, would be the real desire on the part of STMicroelectronics to purchase the entire semiconductor division. It is more likely that the European company will only be able to get hold of part of the Motorola chip business. Otherwise some financial transactions, such as a capital increase, would be needed to meet the overall cost. Among the most attractive and complementary sectors to the business of STMicroelectronics of the semiconductor division of the Schaumburg company are the chips for wireless systems and those for computers that are responsible for producing the PPC used by Apple.

STMicroelectronics controlled almost 18.3% by French state-owned companies, such as Avrea which deals with nuclear energy and France Telecom, and another 18.3% by the Italian Finmeccanica, also a government company.

In the past, Motorola has repeatedly made it clear that if a good offer were to come, it could consider divesting the semiconductor division. Among the possible buyers, according to some sources, Apple and IBM could also have been interested in some technologies of the fin company.

(Thanks to several readers, especially to Cristiano M. Gaston and Giorgio Gualberti, for the reports)