LONDON – The board of directors of leading foundry chip maker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. has approved the appointment of three senior executives as chief operating officers of TSMC (Hsinchu, Taiwan).
Senior vice presidents Shang-yi Chiang (R&D), Mark Liu (operations) and Che-Chia Wei (business development) are each being promoted to co-COO and reporting to Chang. All other divisions and personnel will report to these three and the re-organization takes effect today (Monday, March 5).
The move has excited speculation that TSMC founder, chairman and CEO Morris Chang, who is 81 years old, is contemplating retirement. Chang told reporters at a press conference that he plans to give up the CEO's seat by mid-2014, according to a Financial Times report.
Chang, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford, founded TSMC in 1987 after a 25-year career at Texas Instruments. He has tried to step back once before. He stepped down as CEO in 2005, handing over the CEO's post to Rick Tsai.
Tsai was seen as the heir apparent but in 2009 Chang re-assumed control of the foundry giant, at the age of 77, after the company had seen a drop in business and some technical issues amid the global economic downturn. Tsai moved aside to become president of new business development before becoming chairman and CEO of two TSMC wholly-owned subsidiaries, TSMC Solar Ltd. and TSMC Solid State Lighting Ltd.
This time it appears that Chang is looking for some competition to ensure that the best candidate is selected to take over at TSMC. However, Chang has also contemplated the possibility of co-CEOs, according to the Financial Times report. Chang sees: "a good possibility that there will be two or three co-chief executives," the report quoted him as saying.