ENTERPRISE VENDOR IBM is considering the sale of its semiconductor business.
The Financial Times reported that in a surprise move the company appointed Goldman Sachs to court potential buyers for its semiconductor manufacturing business. The news comes within weeks of IBM's sale of its PC server business to Lenovo for $2.3bn.
IBM declined to comment on the reports that would see it exit from a sector of the information technology industry that it has been instrumental in building. Because so much of the other aspects of IBM's business are dependent on the semiconductor business, any deal would have to involve a strategic partnership to allow its other projects such as the Watson supercomputer to continue.
"It is a step away from their heritage," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. "This is probably their biggest strategic realignment for 20 years."
The sources for the story have emphasised that this is by no means a "done deal" but rather an exploratory exercise that could lead to a sale, a partnership or a return to business as usual, however the contemplation of such a move affecting one of its core businesses has come as a surprise to analysts, given that much of IBM's intellectual property is a product of its semiconductor innovation.
The value of any spinoff business is not known, and there are no potential buyers already in the frame, however the cost of fab plants that can amount to billions of dollars means that the list of possible suitors is limited to a very small handful of companies. µ