Semiconductor market news from DPE- January 31 to February 6

1、Toshiba to invest $1 bln to double power chip production

Toshiba Corp said on Friday it will invest about 125 billion yen ($1.09 billion) to more than double the production of power management semiconductors, aiming to catch up with power chip giants such as Infineon Technologies AG.

The Japanese industrial conglomerate will build a cutting-edge 300-millimeterfabrication plant in central Japan for power management chips, which efficiently control electric power in cars, electronic devices and industrial equipment.

Toshiba will invest around 100 billion yen in the new plant, on top of a 25 billion yen investment in a 300-millimeter fabrication line it is building at an existing chip plant, a Toshiba spokesperson said.

The new plant is set to start operating by March 2025. When the first phase is incomplete, Toshiba's power chip output capacity would be 2.5 times its current level. Depending on demand, the new plant could further expand with additional investment, the spokesperson said.

2、After Siltronic’s bid fails, Global Wafers announces expansion plans

GlobalWafers Co., which supplies silicon wafers to semiconductor manufacturers, says it will invest $3.6 billion in facilities in Asia, the United States and Europe after its attempt to acquire Germany’s Siltronic AG failed.

Sunday’s announcement comes amid shortages of processor chips and other semiconductors that are disrupting auto manufacturing, smartphone and other industries. Producers are announcing plans to expand output, which will boost demand for wafers.

GlobalWafers’ bid to buy Siltronic fell through after German regulators failed to complete a review of the offer by a Jan. 31 deadline. The Taiwanese company said the 100 billion New Taiwan dollars ($3.6 billion) earmarked for the purchase will go into expanding its production capacity instead.

The company. headquartered in Hsinchu, Taiwan, said production should increase in the second half of 2023 but gave no details of possible locations.

GlobalWafers says it is the world’s third-largest supplier of silicon wafers used in semiconductors for information technology, auto manufacturing and other products. It has factories in Taiwan, Japan, the United States, South Korea, China and Southeast Asia.

3、China to establish chipmaking platform to secure domestic chip supply chain

News outlet Nikkei reported that China plans to create a special committee to collaborate with big-name foreign chipmakers, such as Intel and AMD. With this new move, China aims to establish a domestic chip supply chain to circumvent the sanctions that the U.S. has imposed on the country.

The organization is called the "cross-border semiconductor work committee." If Nikkei's information is accurate, China may launch the committee in the first half of this year. The Ministry of Commerce will oversee this special committee in conjunction with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

According to Nikkei's sources, the committee's objective is to fortify the relationship between Chinese and foreign companies. The end game is to build a chip supply chain by securing semiconductor technologies from Japan, Europe, and the U.S. In addition, the committee wants to woo overseas companies into establishing development and manufacturing sites in China with the promise of cooperation with the local governments and funding.

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Co. (SMIC), China's number one chipmaker, Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc. China (AMEC), a semiconductor equipment maker and smartphone giant Xiaomi will reportedly participate in the program. The other participants include Tsinghua University, Peking University, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

4、BlackBerry sells $600 million worth of mobile patents

Former handset giant BlackBerry struck a deal to sell remaining patents related to its defunct mobile business to a specialist IP company, in a transaction worth $600 million.

BlackBerry stated the assets relate mostly to mobile devices, messaging and wireless networking, and will be sold to US-based company Catapult IP Innovations assuming the deal gets through regulators.

Any IP related to its active lines of business have been excluded from the deal.

The former device maker will receive $450 million on closing the deal, with the remaining balance being paid in installments.

Catapult IP Innovations is a company established to buy the assets and is backed by a lending syndicate that includes a Canadian pension fund.

5、Ford Motors suspended or cut production at 8 of its factories due to chip shortage

Difficulties in obtaining semiconductor chips will prompt Ford Motor to temporarily halt or scale back auto production at eight plants in North America, the company said Friday2.4, according to reports.

The announcement by the major U.S. automaker continued a series of supply-chain setbacks that have affected the nation’s economy in recent months. Ford had warned Thursday(2.3) that a lack of chip availability would likely hurt production in the company’s current fiscal quarter, Reuters reported.

Plants expected to see work suspended by Ford’s decision include those in Michigan, Chicago, and Cuautitlan, Mexico, according to Reuters. Also affected will be planted in Kentucky and Oakville, Ontario, Canada, Reuters added.

The Detroit automaker will also run a single shift or a reduced schedule at its factories in Dearborn, Kentucky, and Louisville while removing overtime at its Oakville factory in Canada.

All changes will be in place for the week beginning Feb. 7. Ford shares slumped on Friday after the automaker posted smaller-than-expected quarterly income and forecast a slower recovery in 2022 vehicle production than rival General Motors. However, the company said it expected vehicle volume to improve significantly in the second half.

6、Supply Chain Woes Persist for Honda and Nissan as Automakers Cut Production for February 2022

It has been a rough start to the year for Nissan Motor and Honda Motor, with both automakers announcing that they will scale down production volume in Japan this February due to supply chain issues at home and abroad.

On Thursday, February 3, Honda revealed that output at its domestic assembly plants would shrink by about 10 percent from planned levels. That is a huge blow for Honda as that figure would equate to around 60,000 vehicles for the month.

Honda blamed the downgrade of production on the stalled supplies of semiconductor components from the Southeast Asian region after a heavy flood-hit Malaysia back in December. Honda is the first Japanese carmaker to list heavy flooding in Malaysia as the cause for the drop in production, and other automakers may follow suit as well with that line of reasoning.

With supply chain issues affecting Honda again, the Japanese firm will cut production at two of its domestic plants. Honda previously slashed domestic output by 10 percent from the scheduled volume in November 2021.

Production levels were then downgraded by roughly 5 percent in December 2021 and January 2022. That was a major disappointment for Honda as it forecasted back in November that global output would return to initially planned volumes at the start of the year.

Nissan was also hit badly by supply chain issues, with the Japanese carmaker telling suppliers that it would cut global production for February by 10,000 vehicles. That represents a 4 percent drop from its original production plan, dealing a massive blow to Nissan's finances.

Nissan wanted to restore car production to initially projected levels in January 2022, but the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on those plans yet again. Coronavirus outbreaks brought upon by the highly infectious Omicron variant affected their suppliers, forcing the Japanese company to reduce production by 4 percent to start the year.

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