American investment giant KKR is set to reduce its holdings in Kokusai Electric, a Japanese chip equipment manufacturer, reports Reuters, citing sources  

Sources said that KKR, which owns approximately 43% of Kokusai’s shares, is planning to divest nearly half of its stake to investors.  

This move comes as the shares of Kokusai have nearly tripled in value since their initial public offering in October 2023. 

Based on the closing price as of 8 July 2024, a 20% share in Kokusai is worth approximately $1.6bn (equivalent to Y258.28bn).   

Both KKR and Kokusai have declined to comment on the stake sale, the publication said.  

Kokusai, which specialises in the manufacture of deposition equipment, was originally a part of Hitachi and became independent in 2018.  

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With the semiconductor industry at the forefront of technological advancements, including artificial intelligence, Kokusai has benefited from the growing demand for chip equipment makers’ shares.  

For the year ended March, Kokusai reported sales of Y181bn and has set medium-term goals of achieving sales of Y330bn or more and an adjusted operating margin of 30% or more. 

In 2019, KKR attempted to sell Kokusai to Applied Materials, a US chip industry competitor, but the deal was cancelled due to the lack of regulatory approval from China.  

Applied Materials currently holds a 15% stake in Kokusai.  

Kokusai also competes with Tokyo Electron, which has seen its shares increase by nearly 50% year to date. 

During its initial public offering, Kokusai raised Y108bn, with the share price set at Y1,840.  

The company’s top customers, including Samsung Electronics, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, and Micron Technology, collectively account for more than 40% of its revenue.