Acquisition of Ampleon (NXP Power Division)

As part of our ongoing Chinese acquisition research in Europe, Datenna decided to highlight and research remarkable cases. This case considers the acquisition of Ampleon (the former Power Division of NXP).

Short read

  • NXP’s power division sold to Chinese investors for €1.67 billion in 2015
  • Key semiconductor technology acquired by Chinese investors
  • Majority shareholder (51%) is owned by Chinese State Council
  • New focus on dual-use (military) goods & 5G

The sale of NXP's power division (Ampleon)

On December 8th 2015, the Dutch semiconductor manufacturer NXP concluded a deal to sell its RF Power division to Jianguang Asset Management (alias JAC Capital). The terms of the deal state that JAC Capital pays €1.67 billion for 77% of the shares in this division which was subsequently renamed as Ampleon. The remaining shares are held by the China Wealth Fund II, registered on the Cayman Islands.

The agreement declares that the entire scope of the NXP RF power division is to be transferred to the new company established in the Netherlands (Ampleon). This scope includes the approximately 2,000 employees of NXP engaged in the RF Power business, including its entire management team. The new company will be under full ownership of JAC Capital.

The transfer includes all relevant patents and intellectual properties associated with the RF Power division, as well as the NXP back-end manufacturing operation in the Philippines that is focussed on advanced packaging, testing and assembly of RF Power products.

The investor: JAC Capital

Jianguang Asset Management (JAC Capital) is a joint venture between China State Construction Investment Management (JIC Capital) and Wise Road Capital (Jianping Science and Technology Information Consulting). JIC Capital owns 51% of the shares. In the graph below you can see that through 4 layers of investment vehicles JIC is fully owned by the State Council. Wise Road Capital owns 49% and is a private equity firm often involved in government backed investment funds. Since JIC has the majority share in JAC Capital, we conclude that the State Council is the UBO (ultimate beneficial owner). The acquired company (Ampleon) is therefore now under majority control by the Chinese government.

JAC Capital is an investment firm that focusses on the semiconductor industry and other strategic emerging industries. Established in January of 2014, the company was registered with a starting capital of ¥100 million (€12 million). The company has managed dozens of investment funds including integrated circuit funds, strategy emerging industry funds and specific M&A funds. Currently, the total assets under management exceed CNY 20 billion (€2.5 billion). JAC Capital’s strategic focus is set on core technology industries such as the semiconductor industry. Its focus areas include automotive electronics, telecommunications, industrial control systems, and consumer electronics. JAC Capital was also involved in the acquisition of Nexperia (also a former NXP division) and in the creation of WeEn (a JV between JAC and NXP in China).

Ownership of JAC Capital

Key Technologies at Ampleon

Even though Ampleon was established in 2015, it builds further on 50 years of experience in the RF Power industry. Its headquarters are currently located in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. The firm’s portfolio consists of products and solutions for mobile broadband infrastructure, MRI, particle accelerators and video- and radiosignals. Chips from Ampleon are also used in broadcast towers for mobile telephony. It is estimated that over half of all mobile telephone conversations in the world go through Ampleon chips.

Ampleon is also a founding member of the RF Energy Alliance. The non-profit technical association was founded in September 2014 and is dedicated to the creation of a fast-growing ecosystem around the use of solid-state RF energy as a highly efficient and controllable source of heat and power.

Focus on dual-use (military) goods & 5G

Besides commercial applications such as mobile broadband infrastructure, Ampleon’s chips also find applications in radar, military communication and electronic countermeasures for aerospace and defence. Ampleon’s chips are for example used in radar systems of the Dutch Navy. Since Ampleon is a European company, they are not subject to American ITAR (International Traffic in Arms) legislation. Ampleon claims to be the only company in the world that can produce high-quality GaN (gallium nitride) technology outside ITAR legislation and are therefore uniquely positioned to sell this technology for dual- use products.

Ampleon recognizes aerospace and defense (A&D) as a key growth area in its multi-market business. Being part of NXP in the past, where A&D was not a key focus area, we have only developed an initial position in the market. Ampleon will specifically target this market moving forward, with additional investments in technologies and products. With ITAR-free GaN, we have ample opportunities in the global market where we are selling dual-use (commercial and defense) products.”

As stated in the above quote from an interview with CEO Reinier Beltman, Ampleon has since the acquisition decided to specifically target this aerospace and defense sector. They also started focussing on components for 5G networks. For the development of these 5G components they also cooperate with the Swedish company Sivers IMA.

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China-EU FDI Radar

This case study is part of our ongoing research initiative investigating Chinese state-influenced acquisitions in the EU. The aim is to provide greater transparency on Chinese investments in Europe and the links with the Chinese government. It currently covers the period from 2010 to the present. Our findings are displayed on an interactive map.

The map utilizes our CUBO database to establish the degree of governmental influence in the acquiring company. It will be continuously updated.