Micron Technology Inc. said Thursday it has agreed to buy the semiconductor business of Dallas-based Texas Instruments in a stock swap and debt assumption deal totaling some $800 million at the current price of Micron's common stock.

The announcement was made after the stock market closed. Micron's shares closed Thursday at $22.183/4, up 683/4 cents, a 3.2 percent gain over Wednesday. TI's shares closed up $3.621/2 at $54.50, a 7 percent gain.Boise-based Micron has pushed back the date for opening its computer chip testing facility in Lehi to later this year or next year. The $2.5 billion plant, still uncompleted, was supposed to create 3,500 new jobs when it was announced in 1995.

Could Thursday's announcement help jump-start the Lehi plant? Micron spokesman Stan Lockhart put it this way: "There is every bit as much need for Lehi as there was in the past. We've already told people that Lehi is critical to the future plans of Micron, and that hasn't changed."

But until the price of memory chips rises to where they can be sold for more than they cost to make, it's unlikely that the plant will begin production.

The semiconductor deal involves Micron buying TI's "memory assets" as well as TI's shares in its two memory chip (called DRAMs) manufacturing joint ventures.

Micron and TI said the deal helps both companies: Micron expands its leadership in the memory market, while TI focuses on digital signal processing and analog semi-conductors.

Micron said it plans to offer jobs to most of the TI employees, but TI said it would eliminate 3,500 jobs worldwide, through layoffs and attrition, in a restructuring that it says will save the company some $270 million a year.

TI owns or has joint ventures in chip plants in Texas, Italy, Japan and Singapore.

Meanwhile Thursday, Micron reported a net loss of $106 million or 50 cents per share for its third fiscal quarter ended May 28 on sales of $610 million.

Although Micron increased its sales of semiconductors in the quarter, it suffered an average 30 percent drop in price per megabit sold.

Micron lost $48 million in its second fiscal quarter.

The company said that during the past 2 1/2 years, the average selling price for its semiconductor memory products has dropped 95 percent, from $3.66 per megabit to 17 cents per megabit.

Prices of semiconductors have been falling for some time as South Korea's currency has declined in reaction to the overall Asian economic crisis. South Korea has been a major producer of memory chips, but demand has been weakening, particularly in Asian markets.

In addition to TI's memory chip business, Micron will receive $750 million in financing from TI to help deploy Micron's technology throughout the business.

The two companies also have agreed on a 10-year semiconductor patent cross-license agreement (without royalty payments) that will begin Jan. 1. TI will retain ownership of its related patents.

"This strategic acquisition will enhance Micron's position as the most cost-effective memory producer in the world." said Steve Appleton, chairman, CEO and president of Micron, in a release.

"The additional global capabilities, including participation in a unique joint-venture manufacturing strategy, positions Micron to take advantage of future markets."

Over the past few years, TI has dumped 12 of its businesses to concentrate on semiconductors.