Published:  12:43 PM, 22 July 2023

Top chip maker, SMIC loses chairman

Top chip maker, SMIC loses chairman SMIC headquarters in Shanghai
Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp’s (SMIC) chairman has resigned about a year after formally assuming his role, marking the latest high-profile departure from a company rocked by United States chip sanctions.

Dr Gao Yonggang quit because of a “job adjustment”, the company said in an exchange filing on Monday. Dr Gao, the former chief financial officer who became permanent chairman in March 2022, cedes his post to chemical industry and Communist Party veteran Liu Xunfeng, 58.

SMIC is China’s most advanced chip manufacturer, a national champion that competes with the likes of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company in fabricating silicon. The Chinese company is among a handful of domestic players at the forefront of Beijing’s nationwide effort to combat American technology export curbs by developing local alternatives. 

It appeared to achieve breakthroughs in making chips using 7-nanometre nodes, a key threshold that Washington has tried to block China from reaching.  China’s largest contract chipmaker stressed in its filing that Dr Gao has no disagreement with the board, but did not say if he will stay at the company following his resignation.

His successor is a member of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the top advisory organisation to the country’s Parliament. The new chairman, a chemist-turned-executive, holds or held several roles at state-backed energy firms such as Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical and the Huayi Group.

Dr Gao is the latest in a line of senior executives to have left SMIC in past years as US blacklists cut the Chinese firm off from advanced chip-making machines. Mr Tudor Brown, a celebrated engineer who co-founded British chip developer Arm Limited, resigned from the board last year. In 2021, former chairman Zhou Zixue quit for health reasons. Months later, vice-chairman Chiang Shang-yi resigned less than a year after joining the Shanghai-based company.

>> Source: The Straits Times

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