Via chief predicts chips will bounce back

The head of one of Taiwan's largest semiconductor makers has said he believes the industry has already seen the worst of the...

The head of one of Taiwan's largest semiconductor makers has said he believes the industry has already seen the worst of the current market slump.

"Definitely the bottom is already there and we will be seeing growth right in front of us," said Wenchi Chen, chief executive officer and president of Via Technologies.

He was speaking today (Monday 28 January) ahead of the company's announcement of its fourth quarter results which are due out on Wednesday.

"From Via's point of view, year to year growth in 2001 is about 10%," he said. "I think that is not very good but it is still a gain. 2002 is going to be much better."

In October, when Via announced results for the third quarter, the company said net sales had fallen 22.2% year-on-year on the back of a fall in demand for personal computers and its knock-on effects for PC chip makers.

But while the worst of the current slump may be behind Via, a legal battle with Intel over personal computer chipsets still looms large.

The two companies have already gone several rounds in courts in California as part of a legal battle which Via won. However a separate case centering on Via's P4X266 chipset and C3 processor has spilled over into courts in Hong Kong, Germany, the UK and US District Courts in Delaware and Texas.

Despite a string of wins in battles to date, the lawsuit has nonetheless had an impact on the company, he said. "So far we are winning, so legal-wise we believe we are doing the right thing and justice has been served, but marketing-wise we definitely fell for quite a bit [of] what we think are unreasonable techniques by Intel."

"It's never easy to deal with a giant like Intel but then we believe we are God's company and we learn from the Bible and the story of David and Goliath," said Chen.

Via is not the only Taiwanese company noticing a turnaround in its fortunes. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world's largest contract semiconductor maker, reported its fourth quarter and full year results last week noting a steady recovery in business since the third quarter of 2001. The company said that it expects the recovery momentum to continue throughout 2002.

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