Gennum grabs Bristol-based Nanotech Semi for $34M

Canadian chipmaker Gennum has splashed out on Bristol-based CMOS specialist Nanotech Semiconductor, spending $34 million in cash to acquire the company and its mixed-signal IC know-how.

Gennum, headquartered in Ontario, specialises in the design of semiconductors used in high-speed data transmission systems for telecommunications, broadcast, storage, and networking - and it's the latter that has made the company look to the UK for its acquisition.

Nanotech, based in Bristol, is well known in the industry for creating low-cost mixed-signal ICs using a CMOS manufacturing process - something Gennum is betting will help bolster its 100Mb/s-100Gb/s optical IC product range when combined with the silicon-germanium production techniques used in Canada.

"Through this acquisition, Gennum has significantly strengthened our mixed-signal and optical product portfolio and added critical CMOS technology capability enabling our company to address a broader range of high growth networking markets such as Fiber to the Home, Ethernet and consumer optics," claimed Gennum's chief executive Franz Fink in a statement. "We believe the Nanotech portfolio coupled with Gennum's high speed mixed signal and optical portfolio will increase our ability to provide more, high value products resulting in increased growth opportunities for Gennum."

It's a deal that leaves Gary Steele, the founder of Nanotech Semiconductor, a rich man - but he won't be retiring just yet. "We are excited to join Gennum and create one of the industry's most compelling optical IC transceiver portfolios," Steele said during the announcement of the acquisition. "By integrating our recognized expertise in low cost, high performance CMOS based optical products and technologies and talented employees with Gennum's high speed optical products and global organization, customers will gain access to a uniquely comprehensive portfolio and product roadmap."

With products aimed at OC-3, OC-12, gigabit Ethernet, GEPON, and GPON optical networks - along with standard Ethernet devices for home use - the acquisition of Nanotech could well give Gennum the boost it needs to snag a higher share of a market estimated to be worth around £800 million annually.