Development bureau takes steps to help DRAM firms


TAIPEI — The government has taken steps to assist local dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chip firms that have been battered by a down cycle in the industry and plummeting prices, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang said yesterday. However, Shih did not elaborate on the government’s response to Powerchip Technology Corp.’s reported application to roll over its debt for one more year to cope with its financial woes. “The Industrial Development Bureau (IDB) is handling the matter,” Shih said.

In the first nine months of this year, Powerchip posted a net loss of NT$13.26 billion, compared with NT$12.21 billion in net profit a year earlier.

With its syndicated loans scheduled to mature in mid-December, Powerchip hopes that its creditor banks, mostly government-invested, will roll over the loans for one more year. It was the second major DRAM company in Taiwan to seek to do so, after ProMOS Technologies made a similar request several years ago.

Meanwhile, the economics minister appealed to society not to defame the country’s DRAM, LED, TFT-LCD and photovoltaic sectors by calling them the “four major dying industries” in Taiwan.

The government once saw the DRAM, LED, TFT-LCD and photovoltaic sectors as the country’s “four major backbone industries.”

Shih said the situation in the sectors is not as bad as believed and that the government is mapping out guidelines to offer reasonable financial assistance to help these companies tide over their difficulties. In stocks yesterday, Powerchip closed at NT$1.49, up 6.43 percent. TFT-LCD makers AU Optronics and Chimei Innolux closed at NT$14.65 and NT$14.1, respectively, up 1.03 percent and 2.17 percent. The weighted index rose 0.29 points to 7,387.81.