September 26, 2006 5:00 PM PDT

Ex-Apple execs buy chip start-up

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A start-up founded by a trio of former Apple Computer executives on Tuesday announced plans to pay $260 million in cash for chip foundry Jazz Semiconductor.

Acquicor Technology, founded by Gil Amelio, Ellen Hancock and Steve Wozniak, said they will buy the Newport Beach, Calif.-based chip-making operation. Acquicor received more than $160 million in funding in March to form a "blank check company" that would then seek a company in the technology space to acquire.

Jazz is a privately held firm that was once the manufacturing operations of Conexant Systems. Conexant spun out Jazz in 2002 as a joint venture between it and the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm. Amelio once ran the manufacturing operations that became Jazz, though they were part of Rockwell International at the time. Rockwell spun off its chip unit as Conexant, which later spun off the manufacturing piece as Jazz.

Acquicor said it would fund the deal using money it got from the stock sale, along with third-party financing, including $65 million from Wachovia Capital Finance. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2007, Acquicor said, and the purchase price is subject to adjustment and for possible future contingent payments.

When it had its stock offering in March, Acquicor said that it would return its money to shareholders if it did not complete an acquisition within 18 months of raising the cash. The same week that Acquicor raised its funds in a stock offering, Wozniak's prior company, Wheels of Zeus, said it would close its doors.

Jazz had filed to go public itself, though it will now abandon those plans as it becomes part of Acquicor. Acquicor will remain the parent company, with Jazz operating as a subsidiary. Amelio will continue to serve as Acquicor's CEO, with Hancock as COO and Wozniak as chief technology officer. Jazz CEO Shu Li will retain that title as well, Acquicor said.

See more CNET content tagged:
Gil Amelio, Ellen Hancock, Steve Wozniak, Conexant Systems, manufacturing


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