Thursday, July 29, 2021

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Chip giant GlobalFoundries to build new $5.4 billion plant in Singapore, add 1,000 high-value jobs


SINGAPORE - Semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries is increasing its production capacity in Singapore with a hefty US$4 billion (S$5.4 billion) investment.

The addition of a new fab, or manufacturing plant, here comes amid a global chip shortage and is expected to add around 1,000 jobs, the firm said on Tuesday (June 22).

About 95 per cent of these jobs will be high-value roles such as equipment technicians, process technicians, and engineers.

GlobalFoundries' investment is in partnership with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and co-investments from customers.

Its investment commitment here is among the largest in recent years, with the Republic attracting investments from multinational companies in the electronics, chemicals, and pharmaceutical industries.

The new fab, which is under construction, will be located in its existing Woodlands campus and is expected to start production in January 2023. It is slated to reach full capacity by early 2024.

The fully automated fab will have about 250,000 sq ft of cleanroom space and add about one-third wafer production capacity to the company's Singapore operations, bringing its capacity to about 1.5 million wafers per year.

Singapore accounts for about one-third of GlobalFoundries' revenue and serves about 200 customers worldwide. The manufacturer has about 4,800 employees here, around a third of its global headcount.

Its chief executive Tom Caulfield said: "Our new facility in Singapore will support fast-growing end-markets in the automotive, 5G mobility and secure device segments with long-term customer agreements already in place."

Its expansion in Singapore comes alongside planned investments of over US$1 billion each in manufacturing sites in Germany and the United States, he noted in a virtual press conference on Tuesday.

The US$6 billion committed over the next few years is on top of its planned US$1.4 billion investment in 2021 to raise output at its factories.

The firm is accelerating its investments around the world to meet the challenge of the global chip shortage, Dr Caulfield said, adding that he expects that supply will still be outpaced by demand in the next five to eight years.

It is expanding first in Singapore as the factory here has been around for longest and is at full capacity, he said.

GlobalFoundries has five wafer fabs here and has committed $12 billion in fixed asset investments since its acquisition of Chartered Semiconductors in 2010.

Chip giant GlobalFoundries to build new $5.4 billion plant in Singapore, add 1,000 high-value jobs

Mr Ang Kay Chai, senior vice-president and head of global operations at GlobalFoundries, also highlighted the importance of supply security for its operations and said the company will have duplicate technologies produced in its fabs in different locations more often moving forward.

The chipmaker's efforts to expand capacity come as the global chip shortage continues, with supply outstripped by demand and prices for consumer goods going up as a result. Automakers and consumer electronics manufacturers have been hit, leading to delays in production and higher prices.

The virtual groundbreaking ceremony for GlobalFoundries' new Singapore fab on Tuesday was witnessed by Transport Minister and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S. Iswaran and Mubadala Investment Company managing director and group CEO Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, among others.

GlobalFoundries is owned by Mubadala Investment Company, the Abu Dhabi state investor.

EDB chairman Beh Swan Gin said that the semiconductor industry is a key pillar of Singapore's manufacturing sector, and GlobalFoundries' new fab investment is testament to the Republic's attractiveness as a global node for advanced manufacturing and innovation.

"It will help GlobalFoundries' customers to strengthen the resilience of their supply chains, and also add to the vibrancy of our economy through the creation of good jobs for Singaporeans and business opportunities for our local enterprises," he added.

Mr Iswaran said that on top of adding 1,000 jobs, GlobalFoundries' expansion will also contribute many more employment opportunities through the supporting ecosystem of suppliers, contractors and service providers. The investment also brings Singapore closer to achieving its goal of growing the manufacturing sector by 50 per cent by 2030, he added.

"GlobalFoundries' continued growth in Singapore also builds on the strong bilateral relationship between Singapore and Abu Dhabi," he noted, adding that the United Arab Emirates remains Singapore's top trading and investment partner in the Middle East despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Addressing a question on the company's possible initial public offering, which could value the manufacturer at US$30 billion, Dr Caulfield said he had no comment.

He added that the firm is "heads down focused" on growing and creating the capacity its customers require.

Published : June 23, 2021

By : Choo Yun Ting/The Straits Times/ANN