LONDON Ė IBM, Brazilian development bank BNDES and the EBX Group of Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista, are partnering for the construction and operation of a wafer fab in the south of Brazil, according to local reports.
The SIX Semiconductores project is expected to cost about 1 billion reals (about $500 million) and will be built in Ribeirao das Neves, in the metropolitan area of Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais state. The fab is expected to be completed and operational in 2014 creating 300 direct jobs.
The plant is variously described in reports as intended to make chipsets and custom circuits. It is understood that the chip factory is intended to be a foundry facility to support Brazilian and other fabless chip companies.
Much of the impetus for the project is coming from the Brazilian government which will put up more than half the money through BNDES. However, EBX subsidiary SIX Solucoes Intelligentes and BNDESPAR will each hold a 33 percent stake in SIX Semiconductores, according to reports. IBM, local state banks and construction partners will hold the remainder, the reports said.
It is expected that IBM will provide manufacturing process technology and know-how in return for its stake although the details of the manufacturing process or wafer diameter were not revealed in reports.
A report from Business News Americas referenced IBM saying the factory would be "the most modern semiconductors factory in the southern hemisphere." The same reported quoted IBM Brasil CEO Rodrigo Kede, saying "It will be the most modern plant because we are going to use state-of-the-art technology. We are directing all our knowledge in semiconductors towards the project," and adding that SIX Semiconductores would make chips for applications ranging from medical and industrial through to logistics and telecommunications.
"The project puts Brazil in the select group of countries with high technology in semiconductors. This is an important and historic leap for the development of Brazilian industry, increasing its competitiveness and decreasing the country's dependence on foreign technology," the report quoted BNDES president Luciano Coutinho, as saying at a launch event on Monday (Nov. 19).
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