Thu, May 11, 2006 - Page 12 News List

TSMC picks chief for Vanguard unit in surprise move

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufact-uring Co (TSMC, 台積電) named semiconductor veteran Hsu Chung-shi (徐中時) as president of affiliate Vanguard International Semiconductor Corp (世界先進) yesterday.

TSMC's recent involvement in the personnel change at Vanguard, which is 27 percent owned by TSMC, came unexpectedly and has prompted speculation that the chipmaker could merge with Vanguard to cope with growing demand for chips made at less advanced 8-inch factories.

But the world's biggest contract chipmaker said it has no such plan. TSMC's move comes just after a personnel shakeup at Vanguard. Former Vanguard chairman Paul Chien (簡學仁) was appointed just last month.

"Vanguard is one of TSMC's major investments," said TSMC spokesperson Lora Ho (何麗梅). "We hope he [Hsu] will work closely with the new board of directors and strive for the benefit of all shareholders."

Hsinchu-based Vanguard used to make chips for TSMC primarily on a contract basis, but the company has diversified considerably in recent years.

Early this month, Vanguard's two major shareholders, TSMC and the Cabinet's Development Fund, nominated nine board members including former minister of finance Lin Chuan (林全), who they had tipped to head Vanguard.

Hsu's nomination will be put to the annual shareholder's meeting scheduled for today. The new board will then officially appoint Hsu as Chien's successor.

Hsu previously served as a research and development director at Samsung Electronics Co, vice president of Hualon Microelectronics (華隆微電子) and senior vice president of Winbond Electronics (華邦電子).

He is also familiar with Vanguard, having served as its vice president from 1997 to 2000.

"TSMC's latest move has prompted speculation about a merger between TSMC and Vanguard," said Wang Bou-li (王博立), a semiconductor analyst at SinoPac Securities Corp (建華證券).

Except for the prospect of a merger between the two chipmakers, industry watchers were not concerned about Vanguard's personnel change, Wang said, adding that they cared more about the fundamentals.

Meanwhile, TSMC said yesterday that its unconsolidated sales last month jumped almost 44 percent to NT$27.16 billion (US$866.7 million) from a year earlier. Last month's sales were up about 0.2 percent, NT$27.11 billion, on March.

In the first four months of this year, TSMC's sales totalled NT$104.46 billion, up 40 percent from NT$74.56 billion in the same period last year, the company said in a statement.

Rival United Microelectronics Corp (聯電) said on Tuesday its April sales rose 32.9 percent to NT$8.46 billion.

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