June 5, 2018 / 10:34 AM / a year ago

TSMC head warns of industry risks from U.S., China trade spat

FILE PHOTO - Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) chairman Morris Chang attends an interview with Reuters in Hsinchu, Taiwan October 5, 2017. Picture taken on October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Eason Lam

HSINCHU, Taiwan (Reuters) - The outgoing chairman of the world’s biggest contract chip maker warned on Tuesday of the risks from a trade war between the United States and China, in parting comments as he steps down following three decades running the company.

Protracted trade tensions between Washington and Beijing could hit China’s semiconductor industry and companies across the electronics supply chain, Morris Chang, who founded Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), said at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting.

“If the U.S. and China get into a serious trade dispute, or what some call a trade war, and if the trade war starts to involve the electronics supply chain, then we’re going to be affected in some way,” said 86-year-old Chang, known as the founder of the semiconductor industry in Taiwan.

TSMC has a very large revenue base in the United States and a similar revenue base in China, making it a significant link in the semiconductor chain, he said.

Chang said China’s semiconductor industry will see a lot of progress in the next 5-10 years, but it will still lag behind TSMC, which includes Apple Inc among its customers.

“The distance between us will be about the same in 5-10 years. If I wanted to brag, I’d say the distance will be longer,” said Chang.

He founded TSMC in 1987 and pioneered contract chip manufacturing for chip design firms that do not have their own factories.

Chang, whose career included 25 years at Texas Instruments, said he was now looking forward to writing his autobiography, playing bridge, attending more concerts and traveling.

He will be succeeded as chairman by Mark Liu, who had been co-CEO with C.C. Wei since 2013. Wei will become the sole CEO.

Reporting by Jess Macy Yu; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Neil Fullick

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