Elpida sponsor selection process enters final stage

JIJI

The selection process for a sponsor to support the rehabilitation of failed domestic chipmaker Elpida Memory Inc. has reached its final stage, with many industry watchers closely monitoring whether a counterweight to Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s leading dynamic random access memory maker, will emerge.

U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology Inc., South Korean rival SK Hynix Inc. and a consortium of U.S. and Chinese investment funds are expected to participate in the second round of bidding, which will likely wrap up Friday.

Elpida was set up in 1999 through the integration of the DRAM operations of Hitachi Ltd. and NEC Corp. Later, Elpida took over the DRAM business of Mitsubishi Electric Corp.

Elpida was expected to compete against South Korean and Taiwanese rivals that boosted their presence in the 1990s.

But the company collapsed in February after its restructuring efforts to cope with the yen’s surge and a decline in DRAM prices ended in failure.

Concerned that Elpida would fall into foreign hands, the Japanese government had considered using the state-affiliated Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation of Japan, which led the rehabilitation of Japan Airlines, for Elpida’s reconstruction.

But the idea did not materialize. In addition, domestic electronics giant Toshiba Corp. was knocked out in the first round of bidding.