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Big buyer for Big Blue?

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IBM and chip production may soon be parting ways. The Wall Street Journal reports that Big Blue is looking to unload three chipmaking plants-- two in upstate New York and its Vermont plant in Essex Junction. The Journal reports a California-based tech company with hubs in upstate New York called GlobalFoundries is the leading candidate as a potential buyer.

"IBM doesn't want to be in the business of making chips anymore; GlobalFoundries does. So there might be a meeting of the minds there," economist Art Woolf said.

GlobalFoundries currently has a Burlington, Vt., location listed on its career opportunities page, but no job openings. The company would not comment specifically on whether that's because of a potential buyout, but did hint at possible negotiations.

Reporter Darren Perron: As you know, GlobalFoundries has emerged as the leading candidate to buy IBM's semiconductor making operations. Does this career option tab on your website have anything to do with that?

Travis Bullard/GlobalFoundries: No, not necessarily. The career options tab has been there for quite a long time.

GlobalFoundries says it has had about 10 employees at IBM's Essex Junction plant for years as part of an alliance with IBM and Samsung. The companies share research and development for the newest, cutting-edge technology.

And economists say GlobalFoundries' familiarity with IBM's chipmaking operations could help the company decide whether it's a worthy investment.

"They've got their feet on the ground, they've got people around. They've probably had management here wandering around and looking at the plant seeing what the employees were like, what kind of products they're making, what the technology is like here, what the investment has been," Woolf said.

The speculation is hard for employees and state officials because a sale could also mean job losses.

This week, Gov. Peter Shumlin announced plans for a $5 million incentive fund to help bring and keep tech jobs like those at IBM's Essex Junction plant in Vermont.

"As governor, I can tell you that those 4,000 jobs plus at IBM are incredibly important to our economy. And I'm gonna do whatever I have to do, whatever I can do to keep IBM," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.

Woolf says if GlobalFoundries buys the two plants in upstate New York, the Essex Junction plant would probably be part of the deal. And with a highly qualified workforce already on site, it's likely many of the thousands of jobs the governor talked about would be offered to those employees first.

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