Cree aims to Disrupt SiC Market with APEI Acquisition

July 09, 2015 by Jeff Shepard

Cree, Inc. announced the acquisition of Arkansas Power Electronics International, Inc. (APEI) Combining two highly complementary innovators, the acquisition enables Cree's Power and RF business to extend its leadership position and help to accelerate the market for high-performance, best-in-class SiC power modules. Dr. Alex Lostetter, former president and CEO of APEI will become the Vice President of the newly-formed Cree Fayetteville, Inc.

This acquisition is expected to strengthen Cree’s market position for SiC power electronics, infusing the Power and RF business with additional intellectual property and applications expertise at the systems level from APEI. The companies' shared mission to deliver the industry’s most innovative SiC power products has already led to successful collaboration on multiple government contracts. In 2014, the co-development of a High-Performance Silicon Carbide-based Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Battery Charger on an ARPA-E program resulted in an R&D 100 award, recognizing the 100 most innovative technology advancements of the year.

“Cree’s approach has been to develop silicon-carbide products with industry standard footprints and pinouts, going after relatively lower-cost solutions. APEI has targeted the opposite end of the market with its high-reliability solutions for aggressive thermal environments,” commented John Palmour, CEO of Cree. “Going forward we will be looking to fill in the ‘middle market’ where we can address more value-added opportunities with our merged expertise," Palmour continued.

“We have worked with APEI over the years and have a great respect for their knowledge and experience in silicon-carbide modules and their system-level design and applications capabilities. Our discussions with APEI predate our May announcement of an IPO for the Power and RF Business and our interest in APEI was strong irrespective of the IPO-related activities. ” Palmour concluded.

“Adding this expert team of innovators and portfolio of patents will enable us to further disrupt and expand the market,” said Frank Plastina, executive vice president, Cree Power and RF. “Extending our research and development capabilities with APEI, a leader in wide bandgap power R&D, will help us accelerate delivery of a full spectrum of SiC power modules to meet customer requirements for performance and cost.”

“Joining forces with the market leader in silicon-carbide power gives us an opportunity to commercialize our products faster,” said Dr. Lostetter. “This ideal combination of chip technology and packaging will give us first-mover advantage, helping us to set the industry standard for power modules. We are excited to have more of an impact into the market. This will enable us to bring our intellectual property and expertise into a broader array of application areas,” concluded Dr. Lostetter.

The APEI team, now Cree Fayetteville, Inc., will continue to be based in Fayetteville, AR., and will operate as part of Cree’s Power and RF business. Under the terms of the agreement, Cree will acquire APEI in a merger transaction. The transaction is not targeted to have a material impact on Cree’s fiscal 2016 earnings.