CNBC reported Monday (Jan. 29) that Renesas was in talks to buy Maxim for roughly $20 billion. The report, which cited anonymous sources, said no transaction was imminent and that a deal may not happen at all.

A spokeswoman for Renesas, reached by EE Times via email, said the company denies that it is in talks to acquire Maxim. Renesas also filed a statement with the Tokyo Stock Exchange denying the report, the spokeswoman said.

A spokeswoman for Maxim declined to comment in an email exchange with EE Times, citing company policy against discussing rumors or speculation.

Merger and acquisition activity in the semiconductor industry cooled somewhat last year after a two-year buying spree of unprecedented magnitude. The total value of semiconductor industry acquisitions slipped to $27.7 billion last year, down from $107.3 billion in 2015 and $99.8 billion in 2016, but more than twice the annual average for industry deals during the first half of this decade, according to IC Insights.

To illustrate the buying frenzy that has gripped the chip industry, NXP Semiconductors — Renesas' largest rival in the microcontroller space — is in the process of being acquired by Qualcomm, though the deal is taking longer to clear regulatory reviews. Qualcomm itself is the target of a hostile takeover attempt by rival Broadcom valued at about $105 billion.

In 2016, Renesas won a bidding war with Maxim to acquire automotive IC maker Intersil for $3.2 billion.

After the CNBC report, Maxim's stock price surged by more than 12 percent before declining somewhat in after-hours trading.

— Dylan McGrath is the editor-in-chief of EE Times.