Tuesday, November 24th 2020

Another Semiconductor Player Bites the Dust: Chinese HSMC Shutters Operations

The semiconductor manufacturing industry is a cutthroat competition mostly played between established forces. One need only look to AMD's decision to spin-off its manufacturing arm to create Global Foundries to see how even a grand company can hit manufacturing issues (though not only manufacturing issues hit AMD at that time, obviously) can threaten to shutter operations. Intel's recent issues with 10 nm and 7 nm fabrication also come to mind. as such, it comes at no great surprise that Chinese company Wuhan Hongxin Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (HSMC) has reportedly run out of cash. What's a little more surprising is how this company was actually backed by the Chinese government, and yet it still failed - proof of the semiconductor industry's technical and investment liquidity requirements.

HSMC back in 2017 announced plans to bring online a manufacturing plant in the central Chinese province of Hubei. The aim was to manufacture 14 nm and 7 nm chips as early as 2019/2020, funded by a $20 billion loan and numerous funding rounds. HSMC's ex-CEO Chiang Shang-yi (who previously served as former head of R&D at TSMC) said to EETimes that "Investors ran short of cash." And that was it for the company's aspirations. The company has now been absorbed by the municipal government in the central Chinese province of Hubei, and what will come of that (and the company's future) remain uncertain.
Sources: EE Times, via Tom's Hardware
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19 Comments on Another Semiconductor Player Bites the Dust: Chinese HSMC Shutters Operations

#1
nguyen
Yeah, "Backed by government" means that most of the employees there are close relatives to someone who work inside the government, this is a way to extract government funding into pockets of the government higher ups.
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#2
tabascosauz
nguyenYeah, "Backed by government" means that most of the employees there are close relatives to someone who work inside the government, this is a way to extract government funding into pockets of the government higher ups.
And with that in mind, I can't imagine that the interests of those disgraced former Party officials in Hubei province can survive the events of early 2020, if the officials themselves couldn't retain their positions and reputations due to that incident.

Looks like a half-assed effort all around compared to bigger players like SMIC anyways.
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#3
dj-electric
Should we be sad about this?
I'm sure as hell not.
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#4
Vayra86
They are probably merging their semicon manpower into a single state controlled moloch.

They realize they need all their weight if they want to combat TSMC and Samsung.
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#5
PowerPC
Just a small loan of $20 billion from the government. I wonder who lined their pockets with that.
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#6
ExcuseMeWtf
nguyenYeah, "Backed by government" means that most of the employees there are close relatives to someone who work inside the government, this is a way to extract government funding into pockets of the government higher ups.
Yep. Less incentive to be efficient, if you can just ask for taxpayers' money.

Though evidently it can't go on forever.
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#7
bonehead123
Soooo, looks like the Chineese gov't will be looking to steal & sell anutha $20B worth of Western tech to the highest bidder, so they can refill their coffers & get this plant back into business, hahahahaha :)

WARNING to ALL WESTERN TECH COMPANIES:

LOCK DOWN YOUR SERVERS N.O.W. !!!!!!!!!
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#8
Vya Domus
There are basically only two paths you can take as a semiconductor manufacturer today, you either compete with the likes of TSMC and Samsung for cutting edge nodes and invest billions over several years hoping that you can licence enough IP to put together something that's half as good as they make. Or you try your luck at the other end of the spectrum manufacturing wafers intended to be used for microcontrollers and stuff like that hoping that you can make it work with the dismal margins and colossal volumes such companies operate on in this segment.

In other words it ain't happening.
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#9
Bones
PowerPCJust a small loan of $20 billion from the government. I wonder who lined their pockets with that.
Dunno what you mean by that - Since the Chinese gov literally controls and owns everything over there the state already owned the company so it's not really a "Loan".
Most likely it was started with a given sum of money and told to make it work with the expectation of becoming self-sufficient but failed to do so in the end.

If I had to guess they are now clearing up the debts owed, whoever was running the show got "Terminated" along with their cronies and new management is on the way in.
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#11
Caring1
BonesIf I had to guess they are now clearing up the debts owed, whoever was running the show got "Terminated" with $billions in their pockets and new management is on the way in.
Fixed that for you.
I don't think they will mind being retired now. ;)
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#12
RandallFlagg
Always interesting to see what the news said *before* a company like this collapsed.

Everything was fine and great and going forward until February. I like that phrase, "unstable equipment engineering".


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#13
Mirkoskji
nguyenYeah, "Backed by government" means that most of the employees there are close relatives to someone who work inside the government, this is a way to extract government funding into pockets of the government higher ups.
Nearly every big private enterprise startup was backed by government somehow. Anywhere in the world. Pretty standard practice. Some fail, some thrive.
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#14
PowerPC
MirkoskjiNearly every big private enterprise startup was backed by government somehow. Anywhere in the world. Pretty standard practice. Some fail, some thrive.
I wanna see those statistics. And it's not even like every big private enterprise is so great. Especially the ones funded by the government are often sinkholes for taxes.
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#15
Bones
Caring1Fixed that for you.
I don't think they will mind being retired now.
Rethink what I meant by "Terminated".......
It is Communist China you know. :oops:
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#16
DeathtoGnomes
Caring1Fixed that for you.
I don't think they will mind being retired now. ;)
I have to agree with this fix to @Bones' statement. I was gonna reply with something similar. Even tho the Chinese govt. owned it, corruption is still questioned when it comes to a failed company.
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#17
Mirkoskji
PowerPCI wanna see those statistics. And it's not even like every big private enterprise is so great. Especially the ones funded by the government are often sinkholes for taxes.
Ohhh Come on! you don't need statistics. Tesla was tate backed, Ford was state supported, Crysler was state supported, Apple was state supported. How much support they received depends on the relative historical context. In the past the public intervention was much more pervasive and under the sun. But it depends in which phase of development the country is. China is in a phase similar to the western world '40 to '60. There was strong state intervention in that epoch everywhere in the western world. Enterprises received state support both for their foundation and consolidation and during the various economic crises they endured. There is historical track for this information and is readily and easily available on the internet. The public support they receive doesn't necessairly come from their originary countries. They rake money from every Country in which they put their own factories. Yes they are sinkholes, and yes, it has always been like this since we had a welfare state. Every mining and oil drilling company receives state support in form of investment or tax relief. Also silicon foundries were and are supported through state intervention. Also in the US today there are states that impose bills to support silicon manufacturing. All the trillinons of dollars that flooded the USA stock market during the pandemic? Isn't that public money? Could the biggest companies of today consolidate and maintain a sustainable profile without state intervention?
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#18
Bones
@DeathtoGnomes I'm not questioning it being investigated, undoubtedly they WILL look into it because it was their money all along.

I'm just saying whoever decided it would be a great idea to stuff their pockets probrably got stuffed with lead afterwards....
But they'd never admit it or we would ever know about it.
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#19
PowerPC
MirkoskjiOhhh Come on! you don't need statistics. Tesla was tate backed, Ford was state supported, Crysler was state supported, Apple was state supported. How much support they received depends on the relative historical context. In the past the public intervention was much more pervasive and under the sun. But it depends in which phase of development the country is. China is in a phase similar to the western world '40 to '60. There was strong state intervention in that epoch everywhere in the western world. Enterprises received state support both for their foundation and consolidation and during the various economic crises they endured. There is historical track for this information and is readily and easily available on the internet. The public support they receive doesn't necessairly come from their originary countries. They rake money from every Country in which they put their own factories. Yes they are sinkholes, and yes, it has always been like this since we had a welfare state. Every mining and oil drilling company receives state support in form of investment or tax relief. Also silicon foundries were and are supported through state intervention. Also in the US today there are states that impose bills to support silicon manufacturing. All the trillinons of dollars that flooded the USA stock market during the pandemic? Isn't that public money? Could the biggest companies of today consolidate and maintain a sustainable profile without state intervention?
In what direction are you even going now?

You said that almost every startup was backed by the government. That's wrong and definitely not the case. Nobody gave Elon Musk a billion dollars to startup Tesla. I don't think he even got a dollar from the government then. He had to pretty much invest everything he had and go on a huge limb with his Paypal money. I think he even had to go into debt for it at some point. He could have failed literally hundreds of times in that process because of how risky it was at the time. You comment on something you don't even have a clue about.

I obviously wasn't talking about government subsidies. I'm talking about a state run, 100% crony investment with big money to literally create a new company out of nothing that:
- Already has the head of R&D from TSMC
- Oh yea, and 20 Billion dollars... :laugh::banghead:

That's the dream textbook scenario to explain how money MISmanagement works. Keep living your dream of "government gud", if you see no problem with this.
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