Infineon to buy Cree's Wolfspeed SiC business

July 14, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
Infineon Technologies AG (Munich, Germany) has agreed to buy the Wolfspeed power and RF division of Cree Inc. (Durham, North Carolina) for $850 million in cash (about €740 million).

Cree announced the rebranding of its power and RF division as Wolfspeed in September 2015 (see Cree divests RF, power business ) so that Cree could focus on LED lighting. At the time it was said that Wolfspeed would work towards an initial public offering of shares in the 2016 financial year.

Wolfspeed (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina), which applies silicon-carbide across a breadth of applications in RF and power, provides a good fit with Infineon, which has itself focused on power, industrial, automotive and security applications in recent years. The company generated revenues of $173 million (about €155 million) in the year to March 27, 2016.

Wolfspeed is a supplier of SiC-based power and GaN-on-SiC-based RF power chips. This also includes the related competencies in wafer substrate manufacturing for SiC and GaN-on-SiC. The company employs 550 people and claims to have the world’s largest SiC and GaN wide bandgap power and RF fabrication facility with clean rooms down to Class 10 and trusted foundry status. It also holds an IP portfolio of  about 2,000 patents and patent applications. The deal complements Infineon’s previous acquisition of International Rectifier in early 2015, Infineon said (see Infineon Technologies completes International Rectifier acquisition ).

Power ICs based on compound semiconductors can provide more energy efficient solutions than conventional silicon-based devices and this is increasingly valuable in high frequency applications such as 4G and 5G cellular communications and in automotive.

GaN-on-Si allows higher levels of integration and offers advantages at operating frequencies of up to 10GHz. But GaN-on-SiC technology extends that capability up to 80GHz frequencies that will be used for 5G communications and automotive radar.

"With Wolfspeed we will become number one in SiC-based power semiconductors. We also want to become number one in RF power," said Infineon CEO Reinhard Ploss, in a statement.

The deal has been approved by Cree's board of directors and Infineon's supervisory board but remains subject to regulatory