Fri, May 16, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Chipmaker expects loss

CAUTION IS THE KEY The nation's largest chip-maker has been wounded by depressed prices, but plans to continue with its strategy of upgrading and expanding

BLOOMBERG , TAIPEI

Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技), the nation's largest maker of computer chips, will post a second-quarter loss at current product prices, company president Lien Jih (連日昌) said yesterday.

Nanya's customers, which include Hewlett-Packard Co, Dell Computer Corp, International Business Machines Corp and other personal computer-makers, have been more "cautious" with orders after the outbreak of SARS, Lien said.

"Our customers are very concerned about SARS," Lien told reporters following the company's annual shareholders' meeting.

"We expect an improvement in prices by the third quarter," he said.

Of 10 suppliers in the US$16 billion a year memory-chip industry, only Nanya and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co made profits last year. Nanya posted a first-quarter loss of NT$927 (US$26.7 million) compared with net income of NT$1.5 billion a year ago. The company sells 70 percent of its chips on contract to PC makers.

Nanya may acquire a stake in rival ProMOS Technologies Inc (茂德科技), Lien said.

"In the future, who knows?" he said. "We don't have any plan at this moment."

Creditors of Mosel Vitelic Inc (茂矽) said earlier this month they would start selling part of Mosel's stake in ProMOS -- equal to about a quarter of the stock -- after Mosel defaulted on NT$4.7 billion of debt.

ProMOS operates one of the world's first factories that makes 12-inch silicon wafers, which more than double the number of chips that can be made from standard-sized eight-inch discs and will help cut production costs by about 30 percent.

Lien said Nanya's focus is on its own 12-inch factory, which it is building in partnership with Germany's Infineon Technologies AG, the world's fourth-largest memory-chip maker. Infineon and Mosel are the founding partners of ProMOS.

Nanya and Infineon are investing 2.2 billion euros in their domestic factory. Infineon, the first chipmaker to open a 12-inch plant, owned about a quarter of ProMOS as of last month.

Nanya has budgeted NT$11 billion this year to expand capacity and upgrade production equipment, nearly double the NT$6 billion the company spent last year. Most of the money this year will be used for the Infineon project, Lien said.

Nanya plans to raise about NT$12 billion in the fourth quarter selling 400 million new shares overseas to help fund expansion. The figures imply a 50 percent premium to the company's closing share price yesterday of NT$20.1.

If Nanya fails to sell shares overseas this year, parent Nan Ya Plastics Corp (南亞塑膠), `"would need to find a way to provide financing," Lien said.

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