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ASML to buy Taiwan's Hermes Microvision for US$3.1b

[SAN FRANCISCO] ASML Holding NV, one of the biggest producers of chipmaking equipment, said it's buying Taiwan-based Hermes Microvision Inc. for about NT$100 billion (S$4.2 billion), seeking to add capabilities needed for advanced semiconductor manufacturing.

ASML, based in Veldhoven, Netherlands, is paying NT$1,410 per share in cash to Hermes Microvision holders, representing a 31 per cent premium over the Asian company's average price over the past 30 days, the companies said in a statement early Thursday.

ASML and its peers are consolidating to acquire the scale needed to cope with the increasing cost of the fundamental technology that goes into chips. That also puts them in a better position to negotiate with the few companies that can still afford to build leading-edge production facilities. Just three companies, Intel Corp, Samsung Electronics and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing account for the majority of spending on new chipmaking plants and equipment.

ASML is the industry leader in tools that etch the lines into materials deposited on silicon disks, which create the tiny circuits that enable chips to process complex computations. Hermes Microvision's equipment checks that steps in the process of making chips have been properly completed.