LONDON – Foundry chip maker United Microelectronics Corp. (Hsinchu, Taiwan) has announced that it is offering a private equity placement for up to 10 percent of the company. There has been speculation that Qualcomm could be persuaded to purchase the stock as a means of investing in manufacturing.
In a conference call with analysts Shih-Wei Sun, CEO of UMC said: "This is not for financial purpose, really [we are] looking for strategic partners."
When asked whether UMC would allow Qualcomm to take an equity stake in return for manufacturing capacity Shih-Wei Sun said he could not comment on specific customers.
"As you know, the industry landscape is shifting aggressively now. The structure is changing. The radical supply chain partnership is getting more and more important. So we very much welcome the partnership," Sun said.
He added that the equity stake was available for either customers or technology suppliers to consider. "Either way, we welcome them to any discussions. But it has to be helping UMC strategically in either technology or above and beyond the business collaboration," said Sun.
The deal has similarities to a move announced recently by lithography equipment maker ASML Holdings NV (Veldhoven, The Netherlands) whereby ASML has offered up to a 25 percent stake the company to go alongside investment in extreme-ultraviolet lithography and 450-mm wafer R&D. ASML has the advantage of being a near monopoly supplier of leading-edge lithography equipment and has persuaded Intel to part with about $3 billion in return for a 15 percent stake. ASML is also negotiating over the remaining 10 percent with Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.