Top China chipmaker SMIC sees abrupt departure of second senior executive

The resignation marks the latest management upheaval at SMIC. PHOTO: SMIC

SHANGHAI (BLOOMBERG) - Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) said its vice-chairman Chiang Shang-Yi has resigned less than a year after joining China's biggest chipmaker, the second departure of a senior executive in two months.

Mr Chiang, who is in his mid-70s, has left the company to spend more time with his family, according to a company filing on Thursday (Nov 11). The chip industry veteran joined SMIC in December last year, after having helped to turn Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp (TSMC) into the world's most influential contract chip manufacturer more than a decade ago.

The resignation marks the latest management upheaval at SMIC, which is considered Beijing's best hope at making advanced chips to counter ongoing sanctions by the United States. In September, chairman Zhou Zixue stepped down for health reasons, while co-chief executive Liang Mong Song threatened to quit late last year after learning Mr Chiang would join as vice-chairman.

Both Mr Liang and Mr Chiang are among the industry's top developers but represent different technology paths. Mr Liang later stayed after rounds of negotiations. SMIC said on Thursday that Mr Liang is stepping down as an executive director but will continue to serve as co-CEO.

Before SMIC, Mr Chiang ran Hongxin Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, a government-backed chipmaker. He left after the company ran into funding troubles.

Alongside Mr Chiang's departure, SMIC also reported revenue climbed 31 per cent to US$1.42 billion (S$1.92 billion) in the three months ended September, compared with the US$1.39 billion average of analysts' forecast. Profit was US$321.4 million in the same period, also beating estimates. Revenue for the fourth quarter will increase 11 per cent to 13 per cent from the previous three months, the company said in a separate filing.

To satisfy China's demand for home-made chips, SMIC has been expanding its capacity with a US$8.87 billion new plant in Shanghai as well as a US$2.35 billion factory in Shenzhen. It is the most capable chipmaker in China in terms of capacity and technical know-how, but the company has been unable to buy key machinery from overseas suppliers including ASML Holding after it was blacklisted by the Trump administration.

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