Sat, Sep 10, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Record number of visitors expected at semiconductor fair as industry grows

SHOWCASE As Taiwanese firms boosted equipment spending to almost US$17 billion in the first half of the year, this year's expo could be the biggest yet

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei's annual semiconductor trade show, Semicon Taiwan, is expected to attract a record high number of visitors this year as a result of semiconductor companies' continued capacity expansion amid sustained growth momentum in the industry, an organizer of the event said yesterday.

Semiconductor Equipment and Material International (SEMI), the event's organizer, said Taiwanese companies accounted for nearly one-fifth of the world's spending on equipment, which amounted to a total of US$16.9 billion in the first half of this year.

However, according to SEMI's data, Japan and Korea still spent more on equipment in the first half than Taiwan did.

The organizer expects more than 30,000 visitors to flock to the three-day exhibition this year, compared with 29,000 last year.

The event, at which 630 companies will showcase their latest products, starts on Monday at the Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall I and III.

Capital equipment spending worldwide is expected to slide 12 percent to US$32.63 billion this year, from US$37.12 billion last year, with nearly 70 percent coming from wafer manufacturers, according to statistics provided by SEMI.

"The [expected] small correction will be quite good for the industry after spending rebounded strongly last year," SEMI vice chairman Archie Hwang (黃民奇) told a press conference yesterday.

"The semiconductor industry is maturing. You can't always expect dramatic growth," he said.

Industry watcher iSuppli Corp yesterday slashed its forecast for the expected growth in chip sales this year to 2.4 percent, compared with its earlier projection of 5.9 percent. It expects sales to reach US$232.7 billion.

ISuppli attributed the downward adjustment to high oil prices and manufacturers' growing excess capacity. Nonetheless, iSuppli said the industry would gather steam in 2007, 2008 and 2009, with annual growth expected to hit double-digit levels.

SEMI expects spending on equipment to regain momentum next year to total US$35.29 billion, rising to US$44.32 billion in 2008, Hwang said.

Taiwanese semiconductor companies are expected to spend around US$6 billion on new equipment this year, down from nearly US$8 billion last year, according to SEMI.

The world's top contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), based in Hsinchu, said it plans to spend between US$2.5 billion and US$2.7 billion on new equipment this year, about the same as last year.

Hwang said he expects local semiconductor companies to further cut their capital expenditures slightly next year.

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