|DuPont's silicon carbide (SiC) wafer plant in Michigan. / Courtesy of SK Siltron|
By Kwak Yeon-soo
SK Siltron, the semiconductor wafer unit of SK Group, will acquire DuPont's wafer business in a bid to strengthen its presence in the market, the company said Tuesday.
The market is led by U.S. and Japanese firms. Wafers are thin slices of semiconductor material used in electronics for the fabrication of chips.
The world's fourth-largest wafer producer held a board of directors meeting Tuesday and decided to purchase DuPont's Silicon Carbide (SiC) Wafer business for $450 million.
It plans to complete the acquisition process within the year, with the approval of domestic and overseas licensing.
The acquisition of DuPont's SiC unit will give SK Siltron a stable wafer supply and also create synergy within the group.
The high-quality SiC wafers provide a solid foundation for a new generation of industrial motor controls and power supplies that use electricity more effectively while operating more efficiently, according to SK Siltron.
"The acquisition clearly shows our strong willingness to nurture semiconductor business and create significant synergy within the group, including SK Innovation's EV battery business, due to the wafer boom," an SK Siltron official said.
The semiconductor wafer market is expected to grow fast due to the expanding electric vehicle market as well as the development of artificial intelligence, the internet of things (IoT) and 3D NAND flash technology. Data from HIS Markit predicted that the market for SiC wafers will reach $5.2 billion in 2025.
Wafers are considered efficient innovations that can be used for electric vehicles and other industrial applications.
The investment is also considered timely given that Korean companies have been trying hard to localize key industrial materials amid the escalating political and trade row with Japan.
Japan has imposed export restrictions on three key materials needed to make semiconductors and display panels.
"We plan to combine our manufacturing capabilities with DuPont's research and development (R&D) to optimize processes to secure competitiveness in the market," the official said.
SK Siltron is the only wafer producer in Korea.