Sunday, May 11, 2008

About AMD's acquisition by Dubai or other countries

Spark left us the following comment upon which I want to elaborate:


I was tossing this around. I also posted it on Robo's blog. What do you think?

We know this, obviously. The performance speaks for itself. I use the word “we” loosely, you make the stuff and know it well (as others on this site).
I know it because I buy the stuff a clock the shit out of it, and I’m personally invested.

Perhaps others, shall we say, possible future AMD investors/owners don’t, or even care? They may see an opportunity into buying into a world class, albeit 2nd class, semiconductor manufacturer.

These cash rich, technology/manufacturing/business poor countries are buying assets, big time. I see it all the time. A good percentage of the hotels in NYC are owned by Middle Eastern concerns looking for a business future when the oil runs out. A couple of billion is nothing to big oil money to buy into a fully operational big name semiconductor firm.

I’ll stick my neck out here, at the risk of loosing my head. Wrectors strategic long term goal is to make the company as attractive as possible to such prospective buyers.

The buyer(s) may see:

That AMD is quite capable of giving its competition a serious challenge, if not outright producing a better product. After all, they’ve done it before.

AMD not only comes with manufacturing capabilities with 2 FABs , but with also a world class graphics component, technically a one stop shop of an established world market in computing.

AMD also comes with a total platform solution, chipsets, laptops, and other marketable Intellectual Property, inclusive.

They have an established supply chain, market exposure, a broad customer base, and a competitive solution for the world’s top 500 HPC solutions. Additionally they have good, if not excellent performance, presently, in the 4P market.

They are slated to start construction on a new state of the art FAB with 1.2 billion dollars of government incentives in July of 2009.

They have open complaints against their main and only competitor, conceivably worth billions.

AMD has strategic allies abroad, the EU inclusive, and a relatively untapped market in the Middle East, where top performance would not be a factor, nor would unvarnished favoritism towards an Arab held company.

IBM is a major technology partner.

Wrector’s long term strategic goal of holding on to market share at all cost, an in house graphic component, competitive laptop solutions, major world market inroads, may indeed have a silver lining, after all. They could do it again, with a little help.

All they need to do is sell this to a buyer with deep pockets, who already owns an 8 percent stake, the entire middle east backing (read: trillions), and a dream of obtaining a world class facility for a miserable couple of billion.

At 6 to 7 bucks a share and under 4 billion in market cap, this might look like a goddamned bargain. Hey, Blackstone bought the Hilton chain for 26B, a nice buy, for private equity, choke change at 4 billion, for big Middle Eastern oil.

FTC, SEC, and other choke points you may ask? So, ultimately this rests in the hands of American political interest to force AMD to die? Nope, this time, unlike the Arab held World Port that failed, this one just may fly.

INTC licensing issues 49% is close to 51%, but not that close.

The slightest pissing hint of this would send AMD stock through the roof, double overnight in fact. We will know soon enough.

Just some food for thought.


AMD acquired by the Arabs, interesting topic:

We had a conversation in Investor Village about why China can not acquire AMD,due to the political influence of Intel, I think that this also applies to the Arabs, albeit not as much.

Regarding AMD's strategies, AMD's only problem of significance is the economies of scale disadvantage. Perhaps I should explain in broad strokes: The market for processors is global in nature, then the marketing investment to have a presence in the global market is relatively fixed, thus, greater number of products means smaller individual marketing cost. Most importantly, the research and development costs of working at nano-scales make sense only if the number of products will be huge, and the factory network becomes more capital intensive as a result of the increased difficulties of working at ever smaller nano-scales. This little company has demonstrated that with 1/5 of R&D budged can out-compete Intel in performance, that means that the problem is not how to do good enough global marketing, R&D, or top class Factories, the problem is that it doesn't have the scale to sustain a competitive parity.

Having clear what the real problem is, you see that AMD does something right: To hold on to market share at all costs. The ATI acquisition happened, in part, as a way to increase the scale of operations. Why is this a disaster? Because, according to me, it was the wrong way to increase scale, so wrong, that the net effect has been to reduce the scale:
  • The role that ATI fullfills inside AMD was being fulfilled MORE effectively by nVidia and ATI competition
  • At this point it is somewhat proved that there are no manufacturing synergies between ATI and AMD that could have emerged faster than in Joint Ventures.
  • Regarding "Fusion", the concept was totally devalued when it was announced that it won't lead to higher performance but higher power efficiency: absolute graphics performance leads to higher premiums, better power efficiency is difficult to demonstrate and hard to monetize.
  • AMD had the chance to launch the enthusiast and prosumer "coprocessor revolution" of graphic accelerators and physics/AI accelerators, a market where Intel couldn't have gotten to in at least three years, but it didn't, probably because nVidia was already a competitor.
  • The acquisition distracted a financial position that could have been used to improve the core business
We need to know how the licensing of x86 would be affected by an acquisition by Dubai or other country like that. I mean, we can know all about the letter of the contract, but that won't be enough because there is a very important political component of enforcement and negotiations between the parties, and this extremely important, but still, at this point, an acquisition doesn't show me how it will increase AMD's scale, it won't bring more customers, it won't create a new line of products, it would bring just money. It is hard for me to see in what strategic initiative would AMD place fresh money: If it doesn't sell Dresden, it won't make sense to build New York, and then again, who's going to buy the rather unpopular SOI equipment? how's AMD going to get rid of restrictions imposed by the governments that pitched in the money to build those fabs? Thus, we are to conclude that the money would be burned in the current cycle of lack of competitiveness.

Probably, AMD is done for, because it went this absurd route of reducing scale (acquiring ATI) and devoting all resources to a good for nothing architecture (you can't have single-die quadcore semprons, you can't have fast enough high-end quadcores if they are single die, so, AMD is only able to participate in the low-performance quadcore segment, a very limited segment); thus, in its current predicament, it doesn't even have a project that could save it provided it gets the money. More Dubai, or any other country, funding could still happen, but not on sound investing reasons, but because government officials may be getting "a cut".


SPARKS said...

Food for thought? You ate well. Excellent analysis, well done.