Samsung Electronics kept up a brave face as it finds itself at the crossfire in a standoff between Korea and Japan that is building up to an economic war, on top of the ongoing technology Cold War between the United States and China.
“Samsung Electronics has built itself against challenges. It overcame every one of them,” said Jung Eun-seung, president of the company’s foundry business during his keynote speech delivered at Samsung Foundry Forum held in Seoul on Wednesday.
“The goal to reach the top in foundry won’t be easy, but we will press ahead towards it.”
Samsung, unrivaled in memory chip segment, has vowed to build up the foundry and non-memory sector as big as the memory business. It has rapidly narrowed the gap with the front runner with fast development of technology on massive investment. As of March, TSMC remained atop in the worldwide foundry market with a 48.1 percent share, followed by Samsung Electronics (19.1 percent) and Global Foundries (8.4 percent).
Latest challenge to the chipmaker on top of the bigger-than-expected slump in the memory chip industry came from Japan. Tokyo announced it was restricting Korea-bound shipments of three high-tech materials – fluorine polyimides, photoresists, and hydrogen fluorides – used for semiconductor chip and display production. Starting Thursday, the restrictions would effectively remove Korea from Japan’s fast-track list for these three items as Japanese exporters would have to seek approval for every shipment bound for Korea, a process that would take about 90 days.
Japan is responsible for 90 percent of global output in fluorine polyimide and photoresist and 70 percent of hydrogen fluorides. Its latest move is widely viewed as retaliation for Korean court rulings on wartime forced labor by the Japanese military.
Nearly 500 officials from local fabless and semiconductor equipment companies attended the forum as they were eager to learn what plans the chipmaker had against the multiple headwinds.
“Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor business started from scratch but now stands as the industry leader,” said Jung as he vowed stronger cooperation with local partners, ranging from designing to production and packaging, to invigorate the country’s foundry ecosystem.
Jung projected sharp growth in semiconductor chip demand from 5G network and automotive sectors, adding that the company will focus on developing related technologies as well as expand its cooperation with local foundry partners on various areas of electronic design automation (EDA), intellectual property (IP) solution, and outsourced semiconductor assembly and test (OSAT).
Samsung Electronics on Friday releases its guidance for the second quarter. Its operating profit is expected to more than halve to 6.08 trillion won ($5.2 billion) from 14.87 trillion won a year ago.
By Kim Gyu-sik and Cho Jeehyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]