A deal isn't imminent and one may not happen, the people said, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. Renesas has a market capitalization of about $20 billion, while Maxim is valued at more than $16 billion.
A transaction would continue a multiyear wave of semiconductor consolidation driven by scale efficiencies, increasing demand from car companies and the rising costs of chip fabrication. Renesas beat out Maxim in 2016 to acquire Intersil, a semiconductor company whose chips are used in mobile and infrastructure applications, for $3.2 billion. Now the companies could come together.
Maxim has tried to sell itself before in deals that fell apart. In 2015 it attempted to sell itself after holding talks with Analog Devices and Texas Instruments, people familiar with the matter said at the time. Those talks failed over concerns about valuation.
A spokeswoman for Maxim declined to comment. A spokesman for Renesas Electronics couldn't immediately be reached for contact.
Consolidation in the semiconductor industry was particularly busy in 2015 and 2016, with seven transactions of $12 billion or more. After a slow start in 2017, with year-over-year deal volume down nearly 85 percent in September, Broadcom's $103 billion hostile offer for Qualcomm in November has again made smaller chipmakers more urgently consider merging, one of the people said.
With CNBC in the U.S., CNBC in Asia Pacific, CNBC in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and CNBC World, CNBC is the recognized world leader in business news and provides real-time financial market coverage and business information to more than 409 million homes worldwide, including more than 91 million households in the United States and Canada. CNBC also provides daily business updates to 400 million households across China. The network's 15 live hours a day of business programming in North America (weekdays from 4:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. ET) is produced at CNBC's global headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and includes reports from CNBC News bureaus worldwide. CNBC at night features a mix of new reality programming, CNBC's highly successful series produced exclusively for CNBC and a number of distinctive in-house documentaries.
CNBC also has a vast portfolio of digital products which deliver real-time financial market news and information across a variety of platforms including: CNBC.com; CNBC PRO, the premium, integrated desktop/mobile service that provides live access to CNBC programming, exclusive video content and global market data and analysis; a suite of CNBC mobile products including the CNBC Apps for iOS, Android and Windows devices; and additional products such as the CNBC App for the Apple Watch and Apple TV.
Members of the media can receive more information about CNBC and its programming on the NBCUniversal Media Village Web site at http://www.nbcumv.com/programming/cnbc.
For more information about NBCUniversal, please visit http://www.NBCUniversal.com.