[News] Japanese Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturer Raises Salaries by 40% to Attract Talent

Japanese semiconductor equipment manufacturer Tokyo Electron Limited (TEL) is reportedly set to increase the starting monthly salary for new hires by approximately 40%, breaking the JPY 300,000 barrier for the first time (approximately USD 2,121). This move is expected to align the salary level with international counterparts to attract talent.

According to the report from Nikkei Asia, TEL has been consistently raising salaries and bonuses due to its strong business performance. The company will raise the salary for all new hires by JPY 85,500.

Starting in April 2024, the monthly salary for university graduates joining the company will reach JPY 304,800 (USD 2,161), while those with higher qualifications can receive JPY 320,000. This marks the first salary increase for new employees at TEL in seven years.

As per the survey conducted by the Japan’s National Personnel Authority in the spring of 2023, Japanese private companies offer an average starting salary of around JPY 210,000 (approximately USD 1,484) for university graduates, with those holding higher degrees receiving around JPY 230,000. On the other hand, TEL’s financial statement reveals that the company’s average annual salary as of March 2023 is JPY 13.98 million.

Japan has seen a series of significant investments in the semiconductor industry, including TSMC’s entry into Kumamoto, Kyushu. Semiconductor manufacturers are offering high salaries to attract skilled workers, and this trend is prompting chip equipment suppliers to follow suit.

TEL plans to hire approximately 400 new graduates in the spring, an increase of 50 from the previous year, and envisions increasing the number of new employees to 500 within the next few years.

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(Photo credit: TEL)

Please note that this article cites information from Nikkei Asia 


[News] Examining Japan through Semiconductor Foundries: Goals of TSMC’s and PSMC’s New Plants

In a bid to revitalize its semiconductor industry, Japan has enticed the sector with subsidies worth trillions of yen, aiming to attract both domestic and international semiconductor companies.

Leading semiconductor foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) has invested USD 8.6 billion to construct a factory in Kumamoto Plant, and it is considering building a second plant nearby. According to reports, TSMC is also contemplating a third plant within Kumamoto Prefecture to produce cutting-edge 3nm chips.

Apart from TSMC, major players like Samsung and Powerchip Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (PSMC) are actively investing in Japan. The initiatives of these giants have not only influenced semiconductor manufacturing equipment suppliers in Japan but also spurred them to accelerate technological research and expand production capacity.

As a result of these efforts, the investment of Japan’s six major semiconductor equipment suppliers has surged by 70% over the past five years.

TSMC Kumamoto New Plant Aims for Monthly Production of 55,000 12-Inch Wafers

Reportedly, the new chip plant in Kumamoto, Japan, operated by Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing (JASM), a joint venture between TSMC, Sony, and Denso, is poised for commencing production in the fourth quarter of 2024, while the plant’s production capacity will target a full capacity of 55,000 12-inch wafers per month.

Simultaneously, JASM aims to enhance the local contribution of semiconductor supply chain and ecosystem in Japan from the current 25% to 60% by 2030.

Meanwhile, according to sources cited by Bloomberg, TSMC has informed its supply chain partners that it is considering building a third factory in Kumamoto Plant in southern Japan, codenamed TSMC Fab-23 Phase 3.

TrendForce’s analysis mentioned that Japan’s expertise in semiconductor materials and machinery makes it an attractive location for TSMC’s expansion.

Additionally, Japan’s critical role in semiconductors and raw materials, coupled with collaboration with Sony, provides TSMC with significant advantages. TSMC’s investment in Japan is expected to facilitate access to advanced materials and expertise in CIS technology.

Furthermore, industry speculation suggests that in the future, Japan will not only continue subsidizing semiconductor manufacturing but also enhance collaboration between the semiconductor industry and academia to attract more talent to join the semiconductor industry.

PSMC Japanese Plant Aims for Monthly Production of 40,000 12-Inch Wafers

In late October, PSMC, in collaboration with SBI Holdings, Inc., the Miyagi Prefecture of Japan, and JSMC Corporation, signed a memorandum of understanding. The memorandum confirmed that JSMC’s first semiconductor wafer plant is expected to be located in the Second Northern Sendai Central Industrial Park in Ohira Village, Kurokawa District, Miyagi Prefecture (Second Northern Sendai Central Industrial Park).

The plant will produce 28nm, 40nm, and 55nm chips for automotive and industrial applications, with a planned monthly production of 40,000 12-inch wafers. Previous reports indicated that PSMC plans to construct multiple plants, with the first phase potentially starting construction as early as 2024, involving an investment of around JPY 400 billion (USD 2.6 billion).

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) is expected to provide up to JPY 140 billion in subsidies for the project, targeting operational commencement by 2026. The timeline and plans for the second phase are yet to be determined, with a total investment of approximately JPY 800 billion.

Regarding subsidies, PSMC stated that once Japan announces the subsidy amount for this semiconductor wafer plant investment, all relevant parties will reconfirm the effectiveness of this memorandum of understanding and proceed with the planned construction.

Is Foundry Revenue Expected to Continue its Upward Trend?

In the semiconductor industry chain, the significance of the foundry industry is self-evident. In recent years, the foundry sector has been affected by headwinds in end markets such as consumer electronics. However, as entering the latter half of the year, there are gradually emerging positive signals in the semiconductor industry.

According to TrendForce’s report on December 6th, looking ahead to 4Q23, TrendForce’s anticipation of year-end festive demand is expected to sustain the inflow of urgent orders for smartphones and laptops, particularly for smartphone components.

Although the end-user market is yet to fully recover, pre-sales season stockpiling for Chinese Android smartphones appears to be slightly better than expected, with demand for mid-to-low range 5G and 4G phone APs and continued interest in new iPhone models. This scenario suggests a continued upward trend for the top ten global foundries in Q4, potentially exceeding the growth rate seen in Q3.

According to the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) report presented at SEMICON Japan 2023 on December 12, the global semiconductor equipment market is anticipated to experience a 6.1% year-on-year decline to USD 100.9 billion in sales for new equipment in 2023, marking the first contraction in four years.

However, the forecast for 2024 shows a reversal, with the semiconductor equipment market expected to grow by 4%, reaching USD 105.3 billion in sales. In 2025, a substantial increase of 18% is projected, surpassing the historical high of USD 107.4 billion in 2022.

SEMI CEO Ajit Manocha has noted that the semiconductor market exhibits cyclical patterns, with a short-term downturn expected in 2023. However, he anticipates a turning point towards recovery in 2024.

The year 2025 is poised for robust recovery, driven by increased production capacity, the construction of new wafer fabs, and growing demand for advanced technologies and solutions.

Major Companies Indirectly Boost Chip Equipment Investment in Japan, Surging 70% in 5 Years

According to a report by Nikkei, the proactive investments by semiconductor giants such as TSMC and Micron in Japan have accelerated technological innovations and production capacity expansion among Japanese chip equipment manufacturers.

The combined investment (including R&D and equipment investment) of Japan’s six major chip equipment firms, namely TEL, DISCO, Advantest, Lasertec, Tokyo Seimitsu, and Screen Holdings, for the fiscal year 2023 (April 2023 – March 2024) is approximately JPY 547 billion, marking a significant 70% increase compared to the 2018 fiscal year.

On December 13, Tokyo Electron Limited (TEL) President Tony Kawai stated at SEMICON Japan 2023 that the semiconductor market is projected to exceed USD 1 trillion by 2030, highlighting the immense potential within the industry.

On December 14, Hisashi Kanazashi, the Duputy Director at METI of Japan, noted that top overseas semiconductor firms plan to collaborate with Japan’s strength in “equipment” and expand their research and development presence in Japan.

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(Photo credit: TSMC)


[News] Global Chip Equipment Sales Plummet by 11%, Taiwan Nearly Halves, China Breaks Records

In the Q3 of 2023 (July-September), global sales of semiconductor manufacturing equipment faced a substantial 11% decline, marking the most significant drop in four years and the second consecutive quarter of contraction. Notably, Taiwan’s market saw a nearly 50% reduction in sales, while the Chinese market achieved a historic step, crossing the 40% threshold of the global sales share for the first time, according to the report by Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan (SEAJ).

In collaboration with the International Semiconductor Industry Association (SEMI), SEAJ gathered data from over 80 global semiconductor equipment companies. According to the “Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment(World Wide SEMS Report)” released on December 1st, global chip equipment sales for Q3 2023 dropped by 11% to USD 25.6 billion compared to the same period last year, marking the second consecutive quarter of contraction.

Analyzing regional sales, Taiwan’s market sales dwindled to USD 3.77 billion, a nearly 50% decline from the same period last year (USD 7.28 billion), ranking it as the market with the highest contraction among the top 6. Conversely, the Chinese market experienced a remarkable 42% surge, reaching USD 11.06 billion, constituting 43% of the global sales for the first time and surpassing the 40% mark. This solidifies China’s position as the world’s largest semiconductor equipment market for the second consecutive quarter. Japan witnessed a substantial 29% drop to USD 1.82 billion, North America decreased by 5% to USD 2.5 billion, Europe grew by 2% to USD 1.7 billion, and South Korea faced a significant 19% decrease to USD 3.85 billion.

SEAJ highlighted that compared to the previous quarter (April-June 2023), global chip equipment sales in the last quarter decreased by 1%. In this context, the Chinese market saw a remarkable 46% increase, Taiwan witnessed a steep 34% decrease, South Korea plummeted by 32%, Europe grew by 5%, North America saw a significant 15% decrease, and Japan experienced a substantial 19% increase.


TEL’s Revised Outlook and China’s Rising Impact

Tokyo Electron Limited (TEL), a major player in the Japanese semiconductor equipment industry, released financial data on November 10. Despite delays in investments for advanced process and foundries, the company is experiencing a substantial increase in investments from Chinese customers, especially in mature process. Consequently, TEL has revised its global market size estimate for semiconductor front-end manufacturing equipment (wafer fab equipment, WFE) for the year 2023. The initial estimate made in August, which projected a market size of USD 70-75 billion (a YoY decrease of 25-30%), has been adjusted to USD 85-90 billion (a YoY decrease of 10-15%). Notably, in the last quarter (July-September), the Chinese market’s contribution to TEL’s overall revenue exceeded 40% for the first time.

TEL CEO Toshiki Kawai said, “We have seen around 20 to 30 new customers, and going forward we expect to see the Chinese market grow even further.” Kawai also added, “We have already received inquiries from China for CY2024, so we can expect some visibility. Our forecast for the first half of CY2024 in particular shows that China will continue to represent around 40% of sales by region.”

Please note that this article cites information from SEAJ

(Image: TEL)

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