Thu, Dec 25, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Chi Mei open to mergers: founder

CLARIFICATION The company’s leadership said Hsu Wen-long is open-minded about industry development, but the company has no merger plans at the moment

STAFF WRITER

Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子) is open to mergers and acquisitions as the flat panel industry has been battered by falling demand at home and abroad, founder Hsu Wen-long (許文龍) said in an interview with the Chinese-language Business Weekly (商業周刊) magazine to be released on Monday.

Hsu, 80, who established the nation’s second-largest flat-panel maker Chi Mei Optoelectronics in 1998, talked to Business Weekly about how Chi Mei plans to weather the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, after the company slashed more than 3,000 contract workers last week.

“There are many people who are richer and more capable than me, we [Chi Mei Optoelectronics] can ask others to run the company,” Hsu was quoted as saying about the troubles facing the Tainan-based company.

Hsu said in the interview that he expected that the company could lose around NT$60 billion (US$1.82 billion) next year given current economic conditions.

JOB CUTS

On the company’s recent large-scale job cuts, Hsu said he was not informed of the decision beforehand, but had asked the management team to demonstrate its sincerity in resolving the issue.

“What I mean by sincerity is that, you have to sacrifice yourself while others are being sacrificed,” Hsu said, without elaborating.

In regard to the future of Taiwan’s flat panel industry, Hsu admitted that even he had lost confidence, and did not think the government has the capability to help solve such a huge problem.

SHARED ASSET

Nonetheless, Hsu urged the government not to give up on the flat panel industry, as Taiwan, along with South Korea and Japan, are the only three countries in the world that have the capability to develop it.

“The flat panel industry is Taiwanese society’s shared asset … If Chi Mei lacks the capability to shore up the industry, the government could ask others to do this,” Hsu said in the interview.

In response to Business Weekly’s report, Chi Mei Optoelectronics issued a statement yesterday, saying that Hsu is willing to adopt an open-minded attitude towards the development of the industry, but the company does not have any specific merger plan at the moment.

The company’s statement also defended its layoff move last week, saying it was necessary amid the ongoing global slowdown.

“The company has to slim down and undertake the reorganization ... to ride out this industrial storm. It is a painful process and could cause a misunderstanding for outsiders, but the current workforce adjustment at Chi Mei Optoelectronics is no different from the situations that are facing other companies that must deal with international competitiveness,” the statement read.

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