Fab equipment maker Wonik wants to acquire display driver IC company TLI, TheElec has learned.
Wonik, which also makes display equipment and chips, has expressed its interest in acquiring the fabless chip company since last year, sources said. The pair have recently met to discuss the issue, they added.
Wonik chairman Lee Yong-han is known for his close ties with Samsung, the company’s key customer.
If the acquisition succeeds, Wonik will become a large Samsung-backed fabless rivaling LX Semicon, which spun off from LG, still its key customer.
Wonik acquired fabless startup D2I at the request of Samsung Display to supply OLED display driver ICs.
Wonik is planning to merge TLI, which has a long history of designing display driver ICs, with Wonik D2I,
D2I specializes in ICs for small OLED panels while TLI is currently developing ICs for large OLED panels. Samsung Display manufactures both small and large OLED panels aimed at smartphones and TVs, respectively.
Samsung Display wants Wonik to become its display driver IC supplier from its current supplier Magnachip possibly being sold to a Chinese fund.
While Magnachip has halted its sales, Samsung Display is nonetheless continuing its attempt to find a new supplier.
However, Wonik will have to wad through a management dispute that TLI is embroiled in to succeed.
Some of the executives sued ex-TLI CEO Kim Dalsoo for embezzlement last month. These executives together control a 16.54% stake in TLI and are the party Wonik is in contact with. Kim meanwhile still controls 15.8% of Wonik though he doesn’t have managerial rights. He is however also close with Wonik chairman Lee Yong-han. TLI’s stock is currently unavailable for trading at a market cap of 57.3 billion won.