Today: Chinese investment group with state involvement makes bid for optical-component manufacturer OmniVision. Also; Applied Materials and Agilent reveal earnings a day after Cisco announced layoffs.

The Lead: Chinese investors bid for OmniVision, but would U.S. allow sale?

OmniVision, a Santa Clara component maker that has placed its camera parts in Apple's iPhone, received a takeover offer from a Chinese investor that could be worth $1.7 billion, the company announced Thursday.

Hua Capital Management offered $29 a share for the company, 17.8 percent more than OmniVision's Wednesday closing price of $24.60, which would value OmniVision at $1.67 billion. Shares zoomed toward that mark after the announcement was made ahead of Thursday trading, closing with a 15 percent gain at $28.10, the largest daily percentage gain for an SV150 company.

OmniVision did not signal its willingness to accept the acquisition offer, saying in its statement that the board of directors would investigate the offer and had hired JPMorgan as a financial adviser and Palo Alto law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati as a legal adviser to help with the process.

Even if OmniVision decided to accept the offer, it could run into regulatory issues because the Chinese firm that made the bid is partially state-controlled. OmniVision noted in its statement that Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment is part of the investment group that leads Hua Capital Management, and that entity was established directly under the Pudong New Area government of Shanghai.


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Tim Keeler, a partner at the Mayer Brown law firm, told Reuters on Thursday that the United States would certainly review carefully any bid for a U.S. company from a Chinese firm with state involvement.

"You have these political hurdles, of people being concerned about state-owned enterprises, and people being concerned about chip-making technology going to China," Lewis said, adding, "I can't think of what else they could add to make it more difficult" to receive government approval.

Needham analyst Rajvindra Gill reported Thursday that the unsolicited bid was the first for a U.S. semiconductor by a Chinese state-controlled entity, and predicted it could lead to a higher price before U.S. approval is even considered.

"We could see another U.S. based strategic company make a bid in order to capture key semiconductor assets (i.e. image sensors) or witness a competitive bidding process by another Chinese state-owned entity," Gill wrote.

OmniVision manufactures sensors, chips and other components for cameras used in smartphones and other devices. The booming desire for its parts have pushed it into the top 50 largest technology companies in Silicon Valley in terms of revenues, with sales growing 13.1 percent in 2013 to $1.46 billion.

Those components have been placed in Apple's iPhones in the past, according to breakdowns of the Cupertino company's popular consumer devices, but OmniVision is contractually obligated to avoid mentioning deals with Apple. Shareholders are still embroiled in a class-action lawsuit with executives at the company for mentioning deals with Apple in 2011, leading them to believe OmniVision was the sole supplier of iPhone camera components, when Sony was reportedly as prominent or dominant in the phone.

OmniVision's products have been openly popular with Asian manufacturers of mobile devices, however: The largest customer in its just-completed fiscal year was Chinese contract manufacturer Foxconn, also known as HonHai, and just behind was Korean manufacturer Cowell Electronics, with the two combining for more than a quarter of OmniVision's sales.

Pacific Crest analysts wrote in May that OmniVision is poised for "strong results driven primarily by strong Chinese smartphone demand," offsetting any concerns about Apple purchasing competitive products. Baird Equity research analysts agreed in a note last month that Chinese manufacturers are driving growth for OmniVision, according to Recode.

"We believe OmniVision has the No. 1 market share position in the tier-one smartphone OEM (original equipment manufacturer) segment in China," Baird analysts wrote.

SV150 market report: Cisco falls after revealing earnings, plan for more layoffs

Wall Street enjoyed gains Thursday, though Silicon Valley tech stocks increased at a slower rate as Cisco declined after announcing earnings and yet another plan for layoffs.

Cisco fell 2.6 percent to $24.54 after closing out its fiscal year by announcing 6,000 impending layoffs and annual declines in revenues and profits. Cisco followed that performance by disclosing that its layoffs will cost $700 million in restructuring fees during the current fiscal year, but many analysts still increased price targets on the San Jose networking company's stock after the report. NetApp joined Cisco in announcing earnings Wednesday, but the Sunnyvale data-storage company performed better in the Wall Street aftermath, gaining 5.2 percent to $41.35; San Francisco ad-tech company Yume's earnings led to the biggest percentage decline in the SV150 on Thursday, with shares plunging 11.4 percent to $5.07.

Twitter jumped 2.7 percent to $45.33 while saying it would consider changes after Robin Williams' daughter was harassed on its platform, and introducing new services for verified members. Apple gained 0.3 percent to $97.50 while banning caustic chemicals used in its manufacturing processes, and Tesla Motors closed at its fourth consecutive record high while clarifying its stance on California's environmental rules regarding the Gigafactory. Netflix announced five upcoming original comedy specials and shares dropped 0.2 percent to $450.87, and Yahoo gained 0.5 percent to $36.36 while unveiling online tools for small businesses.

In Thursday's earnings reports, Santa Clara chip-equipment company Applied Materials revealed net income of $301 million, or 24 cents a share, on sales of $2.27 billion, and shares moved higher in late trading. Fellow Santa Clara company Agilent reported earnings of $147 million, or 43 cents a share, on sales of $1.77 billion, and shares held steady, while Extreme Networks slipped after the San Jose networking company revealed losses of $16.2 million, or 17 cents a share, on sales of $155.3 million.

Up: NetApp, GoPro, Twitter, Gilead, LinkedIn, Salesforce

Down: Cisco, Juniper, Nvidia, Ruckus Wireless, Pandora

The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Up 4.06, or 0.26 percent, to 1,564.82

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 18.88, or 0.43 percent, to 4,453

The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 61.78, or 0.37 percent, to 16,713.58

And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 8.46, or 0.43 percent, to 1,955.18

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