Could Sony, ST, Intel or China acquire InvenSense?

November 12, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
Inertial and microphone MEMS provider InvenSense Inc. (San Jose, Calif.), a startup that emerged to go public in August 2011, could be about to be acquired.

The company has announced it will consider a number of options after receiving "significant interest" in the company. It has hired a financial advisor to evaluate these indications of interest but no timetable has been set for completion of the evaluation, the company said.

But who is interested in acquiring this supplier to Apple? Speculation has included Sony, STMicroelectronics and Intel. For Sony such an acquisition would complement its leading position in CMOS image sensors for consumer applications. For STMicroelectronics it could help it add bulk and keep up with MEMS sensor market leader Robert Bosch. And for Intel such an acquisition would dove-tail with its current strategy and moving upstream to become a drone and IoT system supplier.

And the reason that shareholders might be interested is that InvenSense has been going through a difficult time over the last nine months. It's position in smartphones has been chipped away at, while margins have been under pressure. Meanwhile plans to diversify into automotive and industrial applications have not been quick or easy to implement.

InvenSense did announce on Nov. 3 the development of MEMS-based inertial sensors for automotive safety in collaboration with Panasonic Corp. The 6-axis (3-axis accelerometer + 3-axis gyroscope) safety inertial sensor has small size and allows miniaturization for safety applications, such as rollover detection and electronic stability control. The sensor is sampling, supports the demanding low-bias drift, low-sensitivity drift, and high-vibration robustness performance requirements found in automotive, InvenSense said.

Nonetheless revenues are down consistently year-on-year and InvenSense has reported net losses for the last three quarters. Net revenue for the second quarter of fiscal 2017, ended October 2, 2016, was $79.8 million down 29 percent from $112.5 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2016 and the net loss was $12.5 million. Net revenue for the first quarter of fiscal 2017, ended July 3, 2016, was $60.6 million, down 43 percent from $106.3 million for the first