(Bloomberg) -- Renesas Electronics Corp. is exploring the sale of a US unit with military applications, which could fetch as much as $1 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Tokyo-based electronics maker is working with a financial adviser on the process, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. The asset is attracting interest from US chip companies, they added. The talks are early and Renesas’ plans could still change. 

The unit makes chips that are hardened against the effects of radiation, which are shortened to “rad hard” in industry parlance. Renesas acquired the business when it bought California-based Intersil in 2017 and advertises the components as designed for use in space and other harsh environment applications.

“Renesas is constantly considering various possibilities for further business growth, but nothing has been decided,” a company spokesperson said.

Renesas is a key chipmaker for the auto industry, counting local powerhouse manufacturers like Toyota Motor Corp. among its customers. Its shares, which erased losses after the report to remain unchanged Thursday, have gained 19% over the past year on a rise in semiconductor demand triggered by the pandemic. 

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