Not even China can work up enough enthusiasm to buy bankrupt European chip maker Qimonda. The chip business is notoriously tough and Qimonda, which made commodity memory chips, had neither the scale or the technology to appeal to potential buyers.
HK-listed computer maker Inspur International is the latest suitor to say no but what is surprising is that it was interested in the first place. The days when computer companies felt they needed to also make chips ended two decades ago and since then hardware firms have banged the drum of specialisation rather than vertical integration.
Clearly Chinese companies with global ambitions have learnt a lesson from their recent past and now want to first look under the hood before asking the price on distressed western companies.
Despite its daft name, Qimonda has a rich industrial heritage as it used to be part of Germany's Infineon, which in turn used to be part of Siemens. At its height Qimonda employed 13,500 worldwide and had six major R&D facilities. But the tumbling price of Dram chips combined with the millstone of producing chips in high-cost Germany led to big losses and it filed for insolvency earlier this year. If no buyer can be found, production at its main Dresden facility stops at the end of this month.
Inspur claims to be mainland China's largest integrated IT company making both hardware and software for businesses. In 2004, it achieved a rare triumph by producing a system that beat better-known western and Japanese rivals on the TCP-H benchmark — which measures how fast computers process transactions.