The world is watching the conflict between China and China with fear and concern Taiwan. You are one of the most important players in the semiconductor industry in Germany and build chip factories all over the world. Getting nervous?
If something happens there, the impact on the semiconductor industry is the smaller problem. Then the world order is in question. And with the chips it's not so easy: TSMC produces tailor-made chips for Apple and other companies in Taiwan, which are installed in China, among other places. Delivery stops would therefore also affect companies in China. China has only a limited interest in this.
How would that affect you?
We only build the clean room for TSMC. The business volume is therefore comparatively small. In the event of a military conflict, more new factories would be built in the west, including with Exyte. An escalation of the conflict would not harm our business.
What are you hearing from partners in Taiwan?
Many currently see this as saber rattling and are not seriously concerned. Everyone hopes for the prudence of everyone involved. Nobody has stopped investments in Taiwan, they continue unchanged.
How much business do you have in Taiwan?
We are currently making sales of 300 to 400 million euros, less than 10 percent of our total sales. This year it's a bit more because we're building a data center for a US corporation.
Europe and the US is now promoting the chip industry much more. How do you find that?
Basically that is correct. The question is: Which chips are promoted? It makes no sense to produce chips in Europe, send them to Asia, put them in a washing machine and transport them back to Europe. It makes sense to promote chips for the automotive industry or mechanical engineering because that lengthens the value chain in Europe. A mid-range combustion car today has chips worth 400 to 500 euros, and an electric car with autonomous driving characteristics has chips for 2,500 euros. High-tech chips make sense, simpler ones don't really.
Do politicians understand that?
So far, only investment amounts have been mentioned. It is not known which projects are to be funded. I assume that the course is set correctly.
The European Chips Act is intended to mobilize 45 billion euros. Is that enough for a significant share of global production?
If you want to achieve 15 percent equity, that's enough. If 50 percent of the chips in the EU are manufactured, that would not be enough. A small semiconductor plant costs around one billion euros, a large one costs around 17 to 18 billion. The subsidies in the industry are usually between 30 and 40 percent in different forms.
How much do you earn on an investment?
Our share of sales is usually around 20 to 22-plus percent for small systems, and less than 20 percent of the investment sum for large ones. The rest are semiconductor manufacturing machines that the operators buy themselves.