Japan chipmaker Renesas to boost job-cut scheme

TOKYO (AFP) - Struggling Japanese chipmaker Renesas Electronics said on Thursday it planned to widen an early retirement scheme as it scrambles to cut costs to shore up its bleeding balance sheet.

The company said it had proposed to its labour union that more than 3,000 jobs be added to an existing plan to slash 11,500 positions through voluntary reductions and factory floor cuts.

"Now the total number of job cuts is expected to reach about 15,000," a Renesas spokeswoman said, adding that no upper limit had been set on reductions, which amount to about one-third of its workforce.

Employees aged 40 and over would be eligible, the company said.

The firm - created through the merger of the chip units of Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric and NEC - suffered a 94.3 billion yen (S$1.3 billion) loss in the three months to September owing to huge restructuring costs.

It has forecast a full-year net loss of 150 billion yen.

Renesas, the world's biggest supplier of automotive microcontroller chips, last month said it would raise more than US$2 billion from a share sale and a separate capital injection.

The deal would see Renesas sell about 150 billion yen worth of shares to the state-linked Innovation Network Corp. of Japan (INCJ) and top corporate names including Toyota and Panasonic.

INCJ was also ready to kick in another 50 billion yen worth of investments or loans as part of a government-backed bailout, it said.

Japan's microchip sector has struggled with a strong yen and fierce competition, especially from South Korean and Taiwanese rivals.

Renesas has said it would boost outsourcing of its chip production to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, including a bigger share of its output of microcontrollers - key components in vehicles and home appliances.