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Summary:

KLA-Tencor, the No. 4 player in the semiconductor equipment market, on Thursday offered to buy ICOS Vision Systems Corp., a supplier of solar photovoltaic manufacturing equipment. ICOS has a lead in selling equipment that inspects solar cells and LED lights, and has recently signed several multimillion […]

KLA-Tencor, the No. 4 player in the semiconductor equipment market, on Thursday offered to buy ICOS Vision Systems Corp., a supplier of solar photovoltaic manufacturing equipment. ICOS has a lead in selling equipment that inspects solar cells and LED lights, and has recently signed several multimillion deals to put its inspection tools into unnamed solar manufacturing plants.

That explains the offer’s $465.6 million price tag. Making the equipment that makes chips is a grim business to be in. As chipmakers build fewer fabrication plants, there are fewer customers for the manufacturing equipment, so businesses such as KLA-Tencor and rival Applied Materials are looking for growth. Solar could be the key to that.

The process of making PV chips and solar panels is similar enough for equipment makers to feel comfortable snapping up smaller PV equipment makers. Applied, the industry leader, has spent about $1.4 billion buying companies in the solar space. In February the company closed its $334 million acquisition of Italy’s Baccini, a maker of metallization and testing equipment for photovoltaic solar cell production, and back in August, Applied completed a $483 million acquisition of Swiss solar wafer equipment company HCT Shaping Systems. KLA’s move suggest that Applied’s competitors might be trying to catch up.

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By Stacey Higginbotham

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  1. KLA-Tencor offers to buy photovoltaic equipment maker Friday, February 22, 2008

    [...] for ICOS Vision Systems Corp., which makes equipment for inspecting solar cells and LED lighting, earth2tech reports. KLA-Tencor’s offer is another example of aggressive moves by chip equipment makers [...]

  2. Green energy is definitely the best solution in most cases. Technology like solar energy, wind power, fuel cells, zaps electric vehicles, EV hybrids, etc have come so far recently. Green energy even costs way less than oil and gas in many cases.

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    [...] which spent more than $1 billion buying solar equipment companies over the last few years, has bet big on the space, and is the [...]

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