Sat, May 05, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Powerchip on the lookout for 12-inch fab sites

OPTIONS:A spokesperson for the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau said that a semiconductor supply chain is taking shape at Tongluo Industrial Park

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Chipmaker Powerchip Technology Corp (力晶科技) yesterday said it is scouting sites to build a new 12-inch fab in Taiwan to bolster the company’s long-term growth.

Powerchip operates three 12-inch fabs in Taiwan, which have been fully utilized for some time due to resilient demand for power management ICs, driver ICs and niche memory chips, company spokesman Eric Tang (譚仲民) said.

“We are seeking potential [manufacturing sites] to facilitate the company’s long-term development as most companies do,” Tang said in response to a question about the company’s recent scouting trips to Miaoli County and Kaohsiung.

“This will be a long-term plan. The company will be very cautious [about capacity expansion], given the heavy investment. At this stage, we are still evaluating all kinds of options,” Tang said.

It usually costs between NT$100 billion and NT$200 billion (US$3.37 billion and US$6.73 billion) to build a 12-inch chip manufacturing plant.

Powerchip stumbled in 2012, when it accumulated towering debts due to a severe slump in the DRAM industry. The company was delisted from the Taipei Exchange six years ago as its book value tumbled into the negative.

The chipmaker is making a comeback after transforming itself into a foundry for niche memory chips, driver ICs and power management ICs for other companies on a contract basis.

Powerchip last year saw its net profit surge 23 percent to NT$8.08 billion, compared with NT$6.57 billion in 2016, the company’s financial statement said.

That translates into earnings per share of NT$3.39 last year, up from NT$2.76 in 2016.

Revenue grew about 11 percent year-on-year to NT$46.3 billion, from NT$41.84 billion in 2016.

Powerchip is seeking as much as 30 hectares for the construction of a 12-inch fab, the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau said yesterday.

“The newly developed Tongluo Industrial Park (銅鑼科學園區) in Miaoli would be suitable for Powerchip to build a new fab, as a semiconductor supply chain is taking shape there,” bureau spokesperson Andrea Hsu (許增如) said.

Two weeks ago, King Yuan Electronics Co (京元電子), a local chip testing and packaging service provider, broke ground at a new fab in Tongluo to expand its chip testing capacity, Hsu said.

“We have sufficient land to lease, as only half of the science park in Tongluo is occupied,” Hsu said.

To encourage more electronics firms to make Tongluo their new manufacturing site, the bureau is considering upgrading an industrial wastewater treatment plant there.

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