Atmel Corp (ATML.O), a maker of small processors called microcontrollers that are used in the electronics industry, is exploring strategic alternatives, including a possible sale, three people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Atmel, which has a market capitalization of around $4 billion, is working with investment bank Qatalyst Partners on a sale process, two of the people said. There is no certainty that Atmel will decide to sell itself, the people added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the sale process is confidential. A spokeswoman for Atmel declined to comment. Qatalyst did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Atmel shares rose as much as 7.2 percent on the news before ending trading on Monday at $9.75, up 3.6 percent.

Atmel’s longtime chief executive officer, Steve Laub, said in May that he would retire at the end of August, a move that may have contributed to the company’s decision to explore alternatives, some of the sources said.

The semiconductor industry has been a highly active area in dealmaking recently, with large-scale deals announced such as Avago Technologies Ltd (AVGO.O) purchasing Broadcom Corp (BRCM.O) and Intel Corp (INTC.O) buying Altera Corp (ALTR.O).

Some $80 billion in semiconductor M&A has been racked up so far this year, the biggest year for chip deals since 2000, according to Reuters data.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker in New York; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)

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