Apple to buy part of supplier Dialog in $600m deal

Customers in an Apple store at Grand Central Station in New York. (Reuters)
Updated 11 October 2018
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Apple to buy part of supplier Dialog in $600m deal

  • Dialog’s shares rose by 34 percent in Frankfurt as the deal settles questions about future relations between Apple and Dialog
  • Since the first iPhones a decade ago, Apple has used Dialog power-management chips to manage their battery life

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple is to buy part of Dialog Semiconductor Plc’s business in a $600 million deal, expanding the iPhone maker’s chip operations in Europe and securing the German-listed company’s role as a supplier to the US tech group.
Dialog’s shares rose by 34 percent in Frankfurt early yesterday as the deal settles questions about future relations between Apple and Dialog, whose stock tumbled earlier this year when it said Apple planned to use chips from another supplier.
The acquisition is unusual for Apple, which rarely does such deals, and is larger than previous transactions. Apple bought Israel’s PrimeSense, creator of the facial recognition application used to unlock newer iPhones, for roughly $350 million in 2013.
Since the first iPhones a decade ago, Apple has used Dialog power-management chips to manage their battery life. Under the deal, Apple is buying patents, a team of about 300 engineers, most of whom already worked on chips for Apple devices, and Dialog offices in Britain, Italy and Germany.
Dialog said its 2018 revenue would not be affected and it would continue shipments of existing main power management integrated circuits (PMICs) to Apple. It expects to sell current and future generations of so-called sub-PMICs to Apple.
“We are not selling our PMIC business,” CEO Jalal Bagherli told analysts.
After the deal, Dialog expects Apple to account for 35-40 percent of its total revenues in 2022. That is down from around 75 percent in the current year. Headcount will fall to 1,800. The Anglo-German chipmaker also said it would begin a share buyback program for up to 10 percent of its stock following its next quarterly trading update.
Other chip designers in Europe have struggled to manage their relationship with Apple due to its sheer scale. Britain’s Imagination Technologies ended up being sold to a Chinese-backed fund last year after losing Apple as a client.
Shares in Austria’s AMS, which competes with Dialog in areas such as power-management chips, fell 3.8 percent.
Half of the deal’s value, or about $300 million, is cash for the Dialog engineers and offices and the other $300 million is pre-payment to Dialog for supplying chips over the next three years, the companies said. Dialog added that it would continue to deliver chips to other customers, focusing on the automotive and Internet-of-things markets, among others.
It forecast that its sub-PMIC business would achieve compound annual growth rates of 30-35 percent between 2018 and 2022. Its AMS, Connectivity and Automotive & Industrial business would grow at a 10-15 percent rate.
The deal represents an expansion of Apple’s chip design operations, which kicked into high gear in 2010 when the company released its first custom processor for the iPad and iPhone.


Asia’s refining profits slump as Mideast exports surge

Updated 23 February 2019
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Asia’s refining profits slump as Mideast exports surge

  • Since 2006, the Asia-Pacific has been the world’s biggest oil-consuming region, led by industrial users South Korea and Japan along with rising powerhouses China and India
  • However, overbuilding of refineries and sluggish demand growth have caused a jump in fuel exports from these demand hubs

SINGAPORE: Asia’s biggest oil consumers are flooding the region with fuel as refining output is exceeding consumption amid a slowdown in demand growth, pressuring industry profits.
Since 2006, the Asia-Pacific has been the world’s biggest oil-consuming region, led by industrial users South Korea and Japan along with rising powerhouses China and India.
Yet overbuilding of refineries and sluggish demand growth have caused a jump in fuel exports from these demand hubs.
Compounding the supply overhang, fuel exports from the Middle East, which BP data shows added more than 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of refining capacity from 2013 to 2017, have doubled since 2014 to around 55 million tons, according to Refinitiv.
Car sales in China, the world’s second-biggest oil user, fell for the first time on record last year, and early 2019 sales also remain weak, suggesting a slowdown in gasoline demand.
For diesel, China National Petroleum Corp. in January said that it expected demand to fall by 1.1 percent in 2019. That would be China’s first annual demand decline for a major fuel since its industrial ascent started in 1990.
The surge in fuel exports combined with a 25 percent jump in crude oil prices so far this year has collapsed Singapore refinery margins, the Asian benchmark, from more than $11 per barrel in mid-2017 to just over $2.
Combine the slumping margins with labor costs and taxes and many Asian refineries now struggle to make money.
The squeezed margins have pummelled the stocks of most major Asian petroleum companies, such as Japan’s refiners JXTG Holdings Inc. or Idemitsu Kosan, South Korea’s top oil processor SK Innovation, Asia’s top oil refiner China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and Indian Oil Corp., with some companies dropping by about 40 percent over the past year. Jeff Brown, president of energy consultancy FGE, said the surge in exports and resulting oversupply were a “big problem” for the industry.
“The pressure on refinery margins is a case of death by a thousand cuts ... Refinery upgrades throughout the region are bumping up against softening demand growth,” he said.
The profit slump follows a surge in fuel exports from China, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Refinitiv shipping data shows fuel exports from those countries have risen threefold since 2014, to a record of around 15 million tons in January.
The biggest jump in exports has come from China, where refiners are selling off record amounts of excess fuel into Asia.
“There is a risk for Asian market turmoil if (China’s fuel) export capacity remains at the current level or grows further,” said Noriaki Sakai, chief executive officer at Idemitsu Kosan during a news conference last week.
But Japanese and South Korean fuel exports have also risen as demand at home falls amid mature industry and a shrinking population. Japan’s 2019 oil demand will drop by 0.1 percent from 2018, while South Korea’s will remain flat, according to forecasts from Energy Aspects.
In Japan, oil imports have been falling steadily for years, yet its refiners produce more fuel than its industry can absorb. The situation is similar in South Korea, the world’s fifth-biggest refiner by capacity, according to data from BP.
Cho Sang-bum, an official at the Korea Petroleum Association, which represents South Korean refiners, said the surging exports had “triggered a gasoline glut.”
That glut caused negative gasoline margins in January.