September 13, 2006 – Akrion Inc. has agreed to acquire SCP Global Technologies Inc. (SCP), a Boise, ID-based provider of batch immersion tools, in a move to raise its stake as a top supplier of surface preparation equipment to the semiconductor industry. The sale, based “primarily on warrants and royalties,” according to James Molinaro, Akrion president and CEO, will add about $20 million to Akrion’s projected 2007 revenues, bringing them to “north of $135 million,” split roughly 50-50 between batch immersion and single-wafer tools. SCP’s main business assets and IP, including its main manufacturing facility in Boise, will be reshaped into wholly owned subsidiary SCP Services.
Absorbing SCP “literally triples our installed base of equipment,” Molinaro told WaferNEWS, and provides access to a number of new tool bases and customers — notably, Infineon and partners Nanya and Inotera, who still mainly use wet benches, he said. Also, SCP’s largest legacy customer is Intel, and Akrion hopes to reverse a trend of significantly reduced investments from that company and expand its installed base. Intel’s recent announcement that it hopes to avoid $1 billion in capex over the next year plays in Akrion’s favor, Molinaro noted, since the company can offer upgrades instead of brand-new tool purchases.
The deal also brings further consolidation to the industry, according to Molinaro, who cites his main competitors as SEZ Group (single-wafer), TEL (batch immersion), and DNS (both). Although this deal had been in the works for about 10 months, Molinaro said the real trigger was the July 2005 sale of SCP’s Emersion single-wafer hydrofluoric acid-last immersion technology and Marangoni clean/dry IP, to Applied Materials Inc. That deal, explained as a strategy to hasten SCP’s transition into a services-only company, also made them a better strategic fit for Akrion, which claims it already has better single-wafer technology.
Akrion plans to discontinue some of SCP’s older lines in favor of its own newer products — e.g., SCP’s CFM Omni line, acquired several years ago from Mattson Technology, will be phased out in favor of Akrion’s i-Clean batch immersion cleaning tool. Broadly, though, the company says it will continue to provide tools, spare parts, service, and enhancements/upgrades to former customers of the SCP and Steag-AWP wet station batch tools. “There’s still a _lot_ of wet bench sales out there,” Molinaro said, noting that there’s a significant number of IC makers who don’t need to push below 90nm, the rough transition point between wet bench and single-wafer requirements. “You don’t need analog devices at below 90nm — it’ll be lucky if it gets to 130nm,” he said. For customers currently on those trailing processes using wet benches, but with roadmaps to get to 90nm, “now they’re talking to the same company.”