Wed, Dec 17, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Chip makers could receive boost

HELPING HANDThe government will help DRAM companies extend their bank loans to survive the industry downturn, the Ministry of Economic Affairs saidS

By Jerry Lin and Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government yesterday reiterated that it may give financial aid to the nation’s ailing computer memory chip makers as one of its major approaches to prevent any possible shutdown from hurting the nation’s industries and the economy.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs encouraged local makers of computer memory chips, known as dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips, to come up with consolidation proposals, with the government not ruling out the possibility of buying stakes in any new entity or providing loans via a government fund.

Taiwan’s DRAM companies have invested more than NT$850 billion (US$26 billion) over the last 10 years and have built a good supply chain, including chip testing and module sectors.

The industry’s collapse would seriously hurt the nation’s industrial base, the ministry said in a statement.

“The government will follow the market mechanism, while taking into consideration industrial development and a consensus among the public, to push the nation’s DRAM industry forward,” Vice Economic Minister Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) told reporters at a press briefing.

The government will help DRAM companies extend their bank loans to survive the industry downturn, but it still hopes to push for industry consolidation in the long-term for the industry’s development, the ministry said.

The statement came after Mark Durcan, president and chief operating officer of Micron Technology Inc, met the government officials to exchange views about the DRAM industry yesterday.

The meeting was in the media spotlight as speculation swirled that Micron intended to buy struggling ProMOS Technologies Inc (茂德科技), the nation’s third-largest DRAM supplier, to compete with Samsung Electronics Co and to block Japanese rival Elpida Memory Inc’s attempt to expand its market share by acquiring ProMOS.

Responding to the government’s push for industry consolidation, Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技), the nation’s second-biggest computer memory chipmaker, said “we will make proposals after doing some studies,” company spokesman Pai Pei-lin (白培霖) said.

To compete with Samsung, Powerchip Semiconductor Corp (力晶半導體), the nation’s biggest DRAM maker, said last week that it was considering merging local competitors with Rexchip Electronics Inc, a joint venture with Elpida, which is a similar scheme to Nanya’s.

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