Yesterday NXP reported Q4 revenues of $1.1bn and full year revenues of $4.4bn. NXP’s full year revenues in 2006 were $4.9bn.
The main difference with 2006 is that NXP was profitable in 2006 but now, after six years ownership by private equity, makes a loss. Yesterday it reported a $116m loss.
When NXP was bought by private equity company KKR in 2006, KKR loaded up the NXP balance sheet with $6bn of debt.
Now that debt is down to $3.1bn. But the strain of servicing and paying down that debt appears to have restricted NXP’s ability to grow.
The same thing has happened to Freescale after it was bought by private equity company Blackstone in 2006. Freescale was loaded up with $10bn of debt in 2006. It has the same level of revenues – about $4bn a year – as NXP.
Freescale has not grown since 2006 and is still firing people.
Many people have said that the private equity industry model is unsuitable for the semiconductor industry which needs to invest its cash-flow in new products to grow the business.
If the cash-flow is funnelled off to pay down debt, a chip company’s growth is crippled.
NXP is to raise $500m by selling senior unsecured notes. The money raised will not be invested in developing new products to grow the business – it will be used to repay some of NXP’s existing variable interest rate debt.