Philips to sell most of chip business by year's end

Philips said it plans to reduce its ownership in its chip business, which it is spinning off, to a minority interest.

Koninklijke Philips Electronics is speeding up the process of spinning off its semiconductor business and will reduce its ownership of it to a minority stake, the company said on Wednesday.

Philips first announced plans to separate itself from the unit last December, hoping to generate more value from it. At the time, it said it was open to mergers or acquisitions for the business.

The electronics giant hopes to complete the separation by the end of the third quarter and reduce its ownership to a minority interest before the end of the year.

Philips will conduct an IPO or sell shares to financial investors, or both, in order to reach a minority ownership. It will also evaluate consolidation opportunities. It will announce a new name for the independent business "in due course."

Good progress in spinning off the unit and examining options lead Philips to speed up the process. It initiated the spin-off last year as part of a larger strategy to focus on stable businesses and move away from volatile businesses, such as chips.

Another European chip maker, Infineon Technologies, announced plans last year to spin off its memory-chip business.

After posting declining revenues for the semiconductor business during some quarters in 2005, Philips reported revenue growth for the unit in the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year.

Philips overall revenue for the first quarter of 2006 was Euro 7.37 billion (US$8.90 billion as of March 31, the last day in the period being reported), of which Euro 1.22 billion came from the chip business.

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