TSMC to raise salaries next year as it outperforms global IC industry

Taipei, Nov. 7 (CNA) Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC, ???), the world's largest contract chip maker, said Saturday that the company will raise the salary for its employees next year as it outperforms the global integrated circuit business this year. In TSMC's annual sports day, TSMC Chairman Morris Chang (???) told its employees that although the global semiconductor sector has been suffering a slowdown at a time of weakening demand this year, TSMC remained profitable and is expected to dole out more bonuses to its employees. Despite the difficulties faced by the entire IC business, Chang said that his company will not cut its workforce, but rather raise salaries for its employees in April 2016 as planned on the back of its improved bottom line. In addition, it said there was no need for TSMC to send its employees on furloughs, Chang said. In an investor conference held in mid-October, TSMC cut its forecast of growth of the world's semiconductor market for 2015 to zero from an earlier estimate of a 3 percent year-on-year increase. But Chang said in the annual sports event that the chip maker is expected to enjoy a more than 10 percent year-on-year increase in sales and earnings this year. The IC industry is not the only high-tech segment to face a global slowdown and inventory adjustments, and many other electronics segments in Taiwan, such the flat panel sector, encounter falling weak demand and a supply glut. Among the struggling flat panel suppliers, Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. (????) confirmed Friday that it had asked its employees to take unpaid leave due to a supply glut in the global flat screen industry. The furloughs will start from Nov. 10 and continue until the end of December next year. Chang said that TSMC is a fundamentally sound company so it can take on a slowdown faced by the global IC business to continue to grow, beating the worldwide semiconductor sector. In the first nine months of this year, TSMC posted NT$639.98 billion (US$19.57 billion) in consolidated sales, up 18.5 percent from a year earlier, while the chip maker's net profit grew 27.1 percent year-on-year to NT$233.74 billion with earnings per share at NT$9.01, up from NT$7.09 recorded over the same period of last year. The TSMC chairman said that he expects that the global IC market will stage a rebound in the first quarter of next year after inventory adjustments are completed in the fourth quarter of this year. Meanwhile, Chang said that TSMC is open to Chinese investors taking a stake in the Taiwanese chip maker. He made the comments at a time when China's high-tech conglomerate Tsinghua Unigroup (????) expressed enthusiasm to buy into Taiwan's IC business. Currently, the Taiwan government allows Chinese investors to take an non-controlling stake in local contract IC firm and IC packaging and testing service suppliers, but still forbids Chinese companies from owning a stake in a Taiwanese IC designer. Tsinghua Unigroup has inked an agreement to buy a 25 percent stake in Taiwan-based IC packaging and testing services firm Powertech Technology Inc. (??). The deal still needs regulatory approval in Taiwan before it can proceed. (By Jackson Chang and Frances Huang)