Tsinghua Unigroup is preparing a US$23 billion bid for US memory chip maker Micron Technology in what would be the biggest Chinese takeover of a US company, sources said. The state-backed technology conglomerate is prepared to bid US$21 a share for Micron, a 19.3 per cent premium to the stock’s close on Monday. The offer could come as early as Wednesday, a person close to Tsinghua said, although a Micron spokesman said it had not received an offer. A successful bid to acquire Micron would consolidate Unigroup’s position as a champion for China’s technological development, after it struck deals and research partnerships with international firms in the semiconductor industry. Unigroup is controlled by Tsinghua University in Beijing, which counts President Xi Jinping among its alumni The company is controlled by Tsinghua University in Beijing, which counts President Xi Jinping among its alumni, and is backed by the central government. China has attached strategic importance to the development of domestic semiconductor, server and networking equipment industries amid fears of foreign cyber spying. But any foreign takeover of Idaho-based Micron - the last major US-based manufacturer of DRAM chips used in personal computers - would likely have to pass a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews deals for national security implications. Micron makes both dynamic random access memory chips, or DRAM, and NAND memory chips for storing music, pictures and other data on smartphones, cameras and other mobile devices. Acquiring Micron’s cutting-edge memory manufacturing technology would be a major advance for China’s modest but improving chip industry, headed by Unigroup. With roots as a private equity fund, Unigroup transformed into a serious semiconductor player after it bought Chinese chipmakers RDA Microelectronics and Spreadtrum in deals totalling US$1.6 billion last year. When Unigroup received a US$1.5 billion investment from Intel in October, the two sides pledged to cooperate on research and further Chinese technology. None of the world’s top memory chip manufacturers are based in China although South Korea’s SK Hynix has a plant in Wuxi and Samsung Electronics, the global market leader also from South Korea, began full-scale production last year at a new NAND chip factory in Xian. Micron has manufacturing plants and a sales office in Taiwan, and indirectly holds a 20 per cent stake in Inotera Memories, a joint venture with Nanya Technology. If Micron became a mainland-owned company, Taiwanese rules would require it to re-submit its investment application for review. The memory business has seen rapid consolidation in recent years. In May, Hewlett-Packard sold a controlling 51 per cent stake in its China-based data-networking business to Unigroup for at least US$2.3 billion, forming a partnership designed to create a Chinese technology powerhouse. Last year, Intel acquired a stake in two mobile chipmakers through another deal with Unigroup, which owns the companies. A Micron deal could also face scrutiny from the National Development and Reform Commission, which must approve outbound investments worth more than US$2 billion or those in sensitive industries. Billionaire hedge fund manager David Einhorn said in an investor letter on Monday that Micron would be worth more than Netflix within the next few years. Netflix was worth US$42.9 billion at the close on Monday.