China’s Tsinghua Unigroup unveiled a roughly 6 percent stake in Lattice Semiconductor Corp (LSCC.O) on Wednesday, sending shares of the U.S. chip manufacturer soaring 18 percent on speculation of a possible acquisition.
The move is the latest sign of Tsinghua’s desire to be a part of the U.S. semiconductor industry after it scrapped plans to acquire Micron Technology Inc (MU.O) and invest in Western Digital Corp (WDC.O).
Tsinghua said in a regulatory filing its stake in Lattice was for “investment purposes,” but that it may also enter into discussions with management about a “possible commercial agreement.” It added that it could buy more shares or sell its stake.
Reuters reported exclusively in February that Lattice had attracted interest from an unidentified Chinese buyer and had decided to explore a sale.
Based in Portland, Oregon, Lattice makes programmable logic chips and related software used in a variety of items from smartphones to cars.
Its shares rose 99 cents to $6.36, giving it a market capitalization of roughly $740 million.
One of Tsinghua’s divisions, Unisplendour, scrapped a $3.78 billion minority investment in U.S. hard-disk maker Western Digital Corp (WDC.O) earlier this year after the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, which scrutinizes deals for potential national security concerns, decided to review the transaction. It also looked at acquiring Micron Technology last year.
In 2012, Chinese nationals were arrested for attempting to smuggle out dual-use programmable logic devices made by Lattice.
Chinese companies and funds have been increasingly bidding on overseas semiconductor companies to build up China’s domestic chip industry. Earlier in April, a Shanghai-based fund, National Silicon Industry Group, made a takeover bid for Finland’s Okmetic (OKM1V.HE), a maker of silicon wafers.
(Reporting by Liana B. Baker in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)