Micron takeover could be big payday for Inotera staff

By Christine Chou, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Local reports said U.S. memory solutions giant Micron Technology, Inc. plans to make salary structure adjustments for former employees with the newly acquired Inotera Memories, Inc. (華亞科), one of Taiwan’s leading dynamic random access memory (DRAM) makers, which could potentially benefit more than 3,000 Inotera staff.

Micron completed its acquisition of Inotera last December — valued at more than NT$130 billion (US$4 billion) — and is scheduled to officially take over Inotera’s operations this Friday. The deal has made Micron the largest foreign employer and investor in Taiwan. “All good things are worth waiting for, and the completion of this transaction is no exception,” said Micron Chief Executive Mark Durcan.

“Micron is pleased to welcome Inotera talent to its global team, and we are committed to providing high quality jobs and rich international collaboration opportunities to our Taiwan team members.” According to the Chinese-language Economic Daily News, the acquisition followed rumors that Micron had become a takeover target of a Chinese semiconductor giant. The local newspaper speculated that after talks involving Chinese cooperation broke down, a slew of Chinese chip-makers began offering two-fold salary increases to entice the Taiwanese firm’s employees to jump ship — triggering a full-blown talent war between the two straits. The report cited a source familiar with the subject that said Micron has made salary adjustments for Inotera staff starting Thursday, mainly through cancelling former bonuses and boosting monthly salaries by nearly 30 percent instead. Mainland’s Hiring Drive Market analysts have predicted 2017 will see a damaging workforce drain of high-end talent for Taiwanese DRAM manufacturers Inotera and Nanya Technology Co. (南亞科), as retaining staff could become a major management challenge. Recently reports revealed Tsinghua Unigroup, Ltd. and another mainland Chinese semiconductor company, Hefei Chang Xin Network Technology Co., Ltd. (合肥長鑫) had been offering ever more lucrative salaries — up to a three-fold increases — to recruit Taiwanese talent. Already the world’s largest consumer of semiconductors, China is aiming to boost its national self-sufficiency rate for ICs to 70 percent by 2025, and for its homegrown semiconductor industry to catch up technologically — in the design, fabrication and packaging of chips — with the world’s leading firms by 2030. In a move that sent shockwaves through the industry in 2015, former Nanya high-ranking executive Charles Kau (高啟全), dubbed the godfather of the local DRAM industry, left the firm to assume a senior executive role at mainland Chinese-based rival company Tsinghua Unigroup.

Former top-level executive at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC, 台積電) Chiang Shang-yi (蔣尚義) became an independent chair of the Chinese foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International (SMIC) last December. Chiang and Kau are only two high-profile cases of top-level business leaders that oversaw the rise of the semiconductor sector in Taiwan, and have now moved on to help mainland Chinese firms plan and scale their chip production.