Intel Cancels Plans to Acquire Sensor and Semiconductor Maker Tower

Intel cancels Tower acquisition

Intel is walking away from its plans to acquire Tower Semiconductor, a chip and CMOS sensor manufacturer that Panasonic once owned a major stake in.

In a press release that was spotted by Engadget, Intel says that it has mutually agreed with Tower Semiconductor to terminate its previously disclosed agreement to acquire Tower due to “the inability to obtain in a timely manner the regulatory approvals required under the merger agreement.” Bloomberg reports the hangup here was specific to China.

Intel will pay a $353 million termination fee to Tower an accordance with the terms of the merger agreement.

The now defunct acquisition from Intel had been in the works since February 2022 when the $5.4 billion deal was first announced. Tower Semiconductor, formerly TowerJazz, was a target for Intel as it aimed to aggressively expand its manufacturing capabilities in response to a spike in semiconductor demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tower Semiconductor was, for a time, an up-and-coming name in the camera sensor market. In 2019, the company said that it believed Sony’s dominance of the space was a problem for camera manufacturers since it could compete directly with its own customers through the production of its own cameras.

“The problem is that Sony is also a camera maker, so they also compete with their customers,” Dr. Avi Strum, the then SVP and GM of Tower’s Sensors business said. “It’s not an easy situation, especially if the market grows and there is not enough capacity so there is a competition on supply. If Sony is also a customer of their own facilities, of their own production, they may give themselves the benefit of getting it first.”

Panasonic once owned a major stake in Tower Semiconductor, but sold it off in late 2019 and exited the sensor manufacturing business.

Tower still claims it makes CMOS sensors, but it is not clear if any of those make their way into consumer cameras. Tower had been regularly linked with Nikon cameras for years and the sensors in the Z50 and D7500 were rumored to have been produced at least in part by Tower as the two cameras appeared in an investor and analysts online conference presentation document. Not much in recent years has pointed to Tower’s involvement in the consumer space, however.