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Globalfoundries Firming Up IPO Plans

Chip maker Globalfoundries Inc. is firming up plans to go public, its chief executive said, in a move that could give the company more financial firepower to take advantage of an expected surge in demand for computing power in phones, cars, and connected devices in homes and offices.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Globalfoundries, one of the world’s largest chip makers, is aiming to pursue the listing in 2022,

Thomas Caulfield

told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

The potential IPO would also give its Abu Dhabi owners an opportunity to recoup some of their multibillion-dollar semiconductor investment made over the past decade. Globalfoundries is owned by Mubadala Investment Co., an investment arm of the Abu Dhabi government.

Globalfoundries was created in 2009, when

Advanced Micro Devices

spun off its chip production business. Mubadala later acquired several more chip production operations to expand Globalfoundries and said it invested more than $21 billion in production facilities in the U.S. and Europe during the past decade.

The owners would sell a minority stake, Mr. Caulfield said. Globalfoundries has yet to hire bankers to manage the potential listing, he said, but would begin getting ready for the IPO next year.

Globalfoundries is betting recent moves to bolster its bottom line have opened the door to a potential listing. The company backed away from expensive investments in the newest and smallest transistors that drive the world’s most advanced microprocessors. A boom in demand for chips, coupled with streamlined costs, should help the company generate $6 billion in sales and more than $550 million in free cash flow this year, Mr. Caulfield said.

Mr. Caulfield also took a fresh look at some of Globalfoundries’ investments since becoming chief executive in March 2018. In April, Globalfoundries said it would sell its East Fishkill, N.Y., chip factory—a facility it acquired from

International Business Machines

five years ago. In May, it agreed to sell Avera Semiconductor, a chip-design division, to

Marvell Technology Group

for at least $650 million in cash.

The chip maker last month also launched a legal battle against larger rival

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing

, including a request that the U.S. government impose an import ban that could hit items such as iPhones, Lenovo laptops and other electronic devices. It filed complaints across courts in Germany, Texas and Delaware—and before the U.S. International Trade Commission—that TSMC violated more than a dozen patents covering chips and methods for making them. TSMC has denied the charges.

Globalfoundries is now the world’s No. 3 among big chip-producing companies that make semiconductors for other companies such as AMD and


according to market intelligence firm TrendForce. It has fallen behind TSMC, the world’s largest contract chip maker, and

Samsung Electronics

Both won market share by introducing ever-smaller transistors that allowed their chips to power faster and smaller computers. It costs billions of dollars to build factories for smaller chips.

Mr. Caulfield said the IPO would mark a turning point for the company. “It’s about us coming of age and being a real vibrant business, and the way of proving that is as a publicly traded company,” Mr. Caulfield said.

Write to Asa Fitch at

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