AMD: Ripe for a takeover, perhaps

Over the last few years AMD has been getting rid of a lot of things – not just fabs to GlobalFoundries – but stripping down its employee levels and, latterly, removing three senior executives from its highest ranks.

AMD is apparently looking for someone to replace ex-CEO Dirk Meyer – he apparently wasn’t doing well enough, although letting him go at a time when the company could really make hay while Intel got its knickers in a twist seems to indicate a certain lack of, er, strategy.

AMD’s future, it vows, is Fusion and we’re likely to see machines with Llano microprocessors in Autumn, when that falls due. It really is unclear what AMD’s future is – if it has a strategy it’s not telling anyone what it is while it thrashes around trying to form a view on its arch-rival Intel, the 80 percent mammoth on the printed circuit board.

Some think that AMD is prepping itself for a takeover, but if that’s the case, who the heck would want to buy it? It finds itself in something of a dilemma because people that make smartphones are not particularly interested in having anything X86 driving it when there’s so much ARM stuff about and so much Android OSes to put on it.

Does Intel have any design wins for its Atom range of chips for smartphones? If it has, it is keeping conspicuously mum about it. Even X86 applications do not have that formidable legacy factor they once have – smartphones do so much these days that only those hemmed in by corporate diktats of the past need to tote round their notebooks and their Crackberrys or whatever.

But if AMD is ready for takeover, it’s hard to figure out who would want it.  Someone suggested HP might be interested – not sure that one sings at all  – what would it get out of a deal like that?

Perhaps we should look a little bit further than the US of A. We note that Waleed A. Al Muhairi is a director of the AMD board since March 2009. He is the chairman of Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi government. ATIC, of course, now owns GlobalFoundries (GloFo) while Al Mhairi is a director of a number of other companies. He used to work at McKinsey. GloFo is not going to want to take over AMD – heck, it’s doing quite nicely and wouldn’t want one of its customers to be an albatross around its neck.

There could also be mileage in an Asian company taking over AMD. Perhaps a Chinese firm could be interested in being an X86 player and joining Via and Intel as the Holy X86 trinity.

It’s clear from the outside that AMD has to do something and quick – right now it looks like a rudderless company with no clear direction ahead. No doubt its rivals at Intel are looking at it the same way and secretly chuckling at the predicament its smaller rival presents.