Micron Technology
The main entrance to Micron corporate headquarters in Boise, IdahoReuters

Chinese state-owned private-equity firm Tsinghua Unigroup is bidding to buy US-based Micron Technology, offering $23bn (£14.8bn, €20.8bn) for the chipmaker.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that Tsinghua Unigroup which is the investment arm of Tsinghua University is willing to pay $21 per share for Micron, a 19.3% premium over its closing price on 13 July.

A letter outlining Tsinghua's bid has been presented to Micron, one of the people told the newspaper. However, a Micron spokesman told WSJ that the company has not received any offers.

Bloomberg separately reported on the development.

"We are very interested in cooperation with Micron," the news agency quoted Tsinghua Unigroup Chairman Zhao Weiguo as saying in a phone message.

If the deal goes ahead, it would be the largest Chinese takeover of a US company. The previous record was Chinese meat processor Shuanghui International's $7.1bn takeover of Smithfield Foods in 2013, according to data provider Dealogic.

Any deal is likely to face intense scrutiny by US regulators, especially on matters regarding national security.

It would also be the biggest foreign deal by a Chinese company, ahead of CNOOC's $15.15bn acquisition of Canadian oil and gas company Nexen in February 2013.

The bid comes as China is looking to build more semiconductors at home that are crucial to consumer goods such as smartphones and equipment used for defence purposes. The government has earmarked as much as $161bn for spending on the chip industry over the next five to 10 years, according to consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

In addition, Tsinghua Unigroup might be capitalising on the lower share prices of Micron, which have fallen by nearly half in the past year.

Micron, the world's fifth largest chipmaker by revenue, produces a large portion of its chips in US factories. It has large wafer-fabrication facilities in Asia, including in Singapore and Taiwan, and an assembly factory in mainland China.

Tsinghua Unigroup became China's largest chip design firm in 2013 after acquiring two of the country's largest mobile-chip firms, Spreadtrum Communications and RDA Microelectronics.