China fund plans to raise up to $31.5b to back homegrown chip companies

Photo: Bloomberg

China’s government aims to raise as much as 200 billion yuan ($31.5 billion) to invest in homegrown chip companies and accelerate its ambition of building a world-class semiconductor industry, people familiar with the matter said.

The state-backed China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund Co. is in talks with government agencies and corporations to raise at least 150 billion yuan for its second fund vehicle but is angling for up to 200 billion yuan, the people said, asking not to be identified talking about a plan that hasn’t been publicized. It intends to begin deploying capital in the second half of the year, they added.

The firm will again invest in a wide range of sectors from processor design and manufacturing to chip testing and packaging, potentially benefiting industry leaders from telecoms gear makers Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. to major players such as the Tsinghua Group. The first round of money had gone toward more than 20 listed companies, including ZTE and contract chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., the people said.

Smaller chip players gained in the afternoon. Integrated circuit manufacturer Jiangsu Changjiang Electronics Technology Co. climbed as much as 6.2 percent in afternoon trading in Shanghai, while chip packager China Wafer Level CSP Co. gained almost 5 percent.

China’s trying to reduce a reliance on some $200 billion of annual semiconductor imports, which it fears undermines national security and hampers the development of a thriving technology sector. The country envisions spending about $150 billion over 10 years to achieve a leading position in design and manufacturing, an ambitious plan that U.S. executives and officials have warned could harm American interests.

While officials have suggested their initial vision of attaining pole position in chips may have been unrealistic, the government remains intent on finding ways to reduce imports as the world’s largest consumer of semiconductors. The secretive China IC Fund — established in 2014 with about 140 billion yuan of initial capital — plays a key role by steering overall investment and strategy. For its second fund, the state-backed outfit will again turn to central and local government agencies as well as the government-backed enterprises that contributed previously, the people said.

The envisioned ramp-up in domestic investment comes as foreign scrutiny of Chinese-led acquisitions intensifies. The Trump administration blocked a $1.3 billion deal for U.S. chipmaker Lattice Semiconductor Corp. from China-backed Canyon Bridge last year, citing security concerns. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology didn’t respond to a faxed request for comment.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.