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CEO of China's SMIC talks about global expansion

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SMIC? wafer fab? MEMS? 28nm?

Since taking over in 2011, Tzu-Yin Chiu, CEO of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC), has made the company stable, bringing back confidence and focus to China's largest foundry, its employees, its shareholders, as well as the global semiconductor market.

SMIC, based in Shanghai, is no longer the loss-making entity that was plagued with management turmoil back in 2011 when Chiu took the helm. The company's revenue in 2013 reached a record high of $2.07billion, showing 21.6 per cent growth over 2012. Its net profit also reached a historical high of $173million, compared to $22.8million in 2012.

In the midst of SMIC's financial achievements, Chiu last week received the coveted Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) leadership award from SEMI, the global semiconductor industry association.

 SMIC's Revenue Growth

SMIC's Revenue Growth: Blue C Revenue, Red C Net Profit

With breathing room at last, SMIC now talks about the company's various milestones in its environmental, safety and philanthropy activities. Chiu touched upon a "SMIC Liver Transplant Program for Children," an initiative launched last year to contribute $326,936 to fund liver transplants for impoverished children in China.

During a one-on-one interview with EE Times last week, Chiu didn't hesitate to express SMIC's interest in expansionbeyond China.

Asked about IBM fabs that may be up for sale, as Big Blue executes its plan to withdraw from the semiconductor business, Chiu said he's interested. "Never rule out the possibility," he said. However, he quickly added, "Of course, we are aware of some of the issues... IBM is, after all, the jewel of the United States."

SMIC is rehabilitated. China's leading foundry's operation is much more stable. The company is building its revenue and profit growth based on, not a wild, but a modest, capacity buildup of 6.7 per cent per year.

But is this all we can expect? Is this as high as SMIC gets?

SMIC's critics worry that SMIC, under Chiu's leadership, might have already given up the dream of directly competing with the world's Tier 1 foundries such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), Samsung and Intel.

One long-time semiconductor industry observer based in Shanghai, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told EE Times, "The gap between SMIC and TSMC is not narrowing, but rather, widening larger in the last few years."

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