Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s top contract chipmaker, yesterday dismissed a report saying that it planned to spend NT$10 billion (US$337 million) for a 50 percent share of a new venture with its customer Fujitsu Ltd in Japan in order to boost capacity and to safeguard its market share.
The chipmaker’s comments came after the Chinese-language Economics Daily News reported yesterday that TSMC was close to striking a deal with Fujitsu to create a new joint venture in the first half of this year at the earliest, giving it access to the Japanese chipmaker’s advanced 12-inch plant in Mie Prefecture, western Japan.
The report was the latest in a string of speculation over the past six months about a shortlist of potential buyers of Fujitsu’s Mie plant as the Tokyo-based chipmaker accelerates its “fab-lite” strategy by selling plants and outsourcing chip manufacturing to cut costs as it was its restructures its operations to cope with fast-deteriorating market conditions and the industry’s intensely competitive climate.
“The report is pure speculation and not correct,” TSMC spokesperson Elizabeth Sun (孫又文) said by telephone.
TSMC has been in contact with Fujitsu about future cooperation plans, but nothing was certain yet.
Sun declined to comment on whether creating a new venture with Fujitsu would be part of the firms’ talks.
“We cannot comment on this until we come up substantial results,” she said.
In a statement sent later yesterday, Sun said TSMC “has been exploring several options in Japan, including a joint venture with multiple customers and multiple parties. However, no definitive agreement has been reached.”
“Eventually, if a joint venture can be established, it will be an arrangement that benefits all parties involved,” she said.
“If the deal is reached, it would be a bargain for TSMC, as Fujitsu’s Mie plant can produce advanced chips,” SEMI analyst Clark Tseng (曾瑞榆) said.
“Since TSMC does not operate any Japanese factories, the deal would help it secure more orders from Japanese chipmakers, which are farming out chip production [as they are increasingly unable to afford the high manufacturing costs],” Tseng said.
TSMC said it is considering opening a factory outside current manufacturing sites in Taiwan, the US and China, but it has no concrete plans at the moment.
The chipmaker plans to allocate record-high spending of US$9 billion on new equipment and facilities this year, which would help boost its capacity by about 10 percent from 15.09 million 8-inch wafers last year.
TSMC shares closed up 0.48 percent at NT$105 yesterday.