SK Hynix Gets China Approval to Take over Intel’s NAND Business

SK Hynix, a South Korean chipmaker, announced on Wednesday that the Chinese antitrust authorities have approved its $9 billion acquisition of Intel Corp’s NAND and SSD (solid-state drive) division, completing the regulatory approval process in eight nations. The merger agreement between the US chip giant and SK Hynix struck in October of last year. Following the transaction, SK Hynix received approval from government watchdogs in South Korea, the United States, the European Union, Taiwan, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Singapore.

“SK Hynix sincerely welcomes and appreciates the State Administration of Market Regulation’s merger permission for the agreement,” the company said in a statement. By completing the remaining post-merger integration process, SK Hynix will improve its competitiveness in the NAND Flash and SSD markets.” The agreement, which is SK Hynix’s largest, will help the company develop its NAND SSD business and close the gap with market leader Samsung Electronics. Meanwhile, Intel announced last year that it would keep the Optane business in order to invest in sophisticated technologies. 

The American firm intends to sell its NAND division and focus on creating technologies like 5G network infrastructure, artificial intelligence, and edge computing. A representative for SK Hynix stated that the first payment of $7 billion will be made by the end of this year, and the remaining $2 billion will be paid by March 2025. The South Korean chipmaker will acquire Intel’s NAND SSD, NAND component, and wafer businesses (together with NAND-related intellectual property and staff) as well as its NAND memory production plant in Dalian after the agreement is completed.

Because of the tensions between the US and China, there has been worry that SK Hynix will not gain China’s approval for the transaction. The clearance comes at the correct moment and without substantial delay, according to SK Hynix, because the acquisition “is judged mutually advantageous” to all three nations. China’s State Administration for Market Regulation announced on Wednesday that it has authorized the proposal, albeit with a number of five-year stipulations.

According to the statement, SK Hynix must increase the number of PCIe and SATA enterprise-class solid-state hard disks it produces, as well as offer the goods at fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory rates. It further stated that SK Hynix should not compel customers in China to buy just SK Hynix or SK Hynix-controlled enterprises’ products.