UAE-Crown-Prince-Visits-Samsung
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, left, guides United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at a Samsung factory near Seoul on Feb. 26, 2019. Courtesy of Samsung Electronics

For United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who took a flight to Korea Feb. 26, 2019, business may come first ahead of politics.

On the day, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi visited two separate factories of Samsung Electronics near Seoul before having a dinner meeting with Korean President Moon Jae-in, according to the presidential house and Samsung,

Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, who leads the country’s top conglomerate instead of his bed-ridden father, Chairman Lee Kun-hee, guided Crown Prince.

Agendas of the meeting were not disclosed but observers guess that Crown Prince tries to sell GlobalFoundaries. The Abu Dhabi government channeled funds through its investment arm ATIC, which is now the largest shareholder of the foundry.

Will Samsung buy GlobalFoundaries?

The meeting was actually the second one in February alone. Earlier this month, the two-way gathering took place in Dubai.

GlobalFoundaries is a No. 3 player in the global foundry market. Foundries refer to fabrication plants, which churn our semiconductors outsourced by design facilities.

Just like the integrated semiconductor companies, foundries have to make big investments to catch up with cutting-edge production technologies. But GlobalFoundries seems to lag in the competition.

There have been rumors over sales of the company and media outlets start to report them.

From the standpoint of Samsung, the deal might make sense too.

Samsung is the world’s foremost maker of memory chips and raked in huge profits over the past few years thanks to surging demands. But the market shows signs of tailing off, which prompts the Seoul-based company to seek alternative revenue sources.

The foundry market appears to be one of many targets of Samsung, which funnels resources there.

Taiwan’s TSMC is a runaway leader in the foundry market with Samsung surging fast in the hard-fought market.

As of last year, Taiwan’s TSMC accounted for 50.8 percent of market followed by Samsung with 14.9 percent. GlobalFoundries was placed at third with 8.4 percent chased by such manufacturers as UMC and SMIC.

A source familiar with the issue said that Samsung may take over GlobalFoundries.

Samsung vowed to take the top place in the non-memory market by 2030. Then it needs inorganic growth strategies of purchasing other companies,” said the source who asked not to be named.

GlobalFoundries is not about technologies but it has customer bases. Hence, it is not a total nonsense if Samsung purchases the company.”