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(Bloomberg) -- While technology billionaires have been among the most visible champions of the fight against Covid-19, perhaps none has as much at stake as Jay Y. Lee., Samsung’s anointed heir.South Korea’s largest corporation and its de facto leader have been key players in one of Asia’s most successful coronavirus containment campaigns. Since March, Samsung has dispatched its own doctors to hard-hit zones, flown Korean engineers overseas via its private jet, doled out roughly $39 million worth of aid globally and played a central role in ramping up production of testing kits -- hailed by healthcare experts as a turning point in Korea’s battle against the disease.Samsung -- the world’s largest maker of memory chips, mobile devices and electronic displays -- and its fellow conglomerates helped flatten the virus curve. But for Lee, success comes at a time of particular scrutiny. The well-publicized effort burnished his image months before the denouement of a years-long scandal and trial into alleged influence-peddling and Lee’s succession plans. In the legal clash, which inflamed resentment against Korea’s most influential conglomerates, Lee stands accused of using thoroughbred horses and other gifts to buy government support for plans to cement his family’s control over the Samsung empire -- something both Samsung and he have denied.In a sign of how popular opinion will play into the case, Lee this week requested a public assessment of the validity of the indictment, invoking a measure allowing the formation of a civil panel to review cases. Then on Thursday, prosecutors, at risk of losing some authority, decided to seek an arrest warrant for the billionaire for alleged violations of capital market and audit laws, Yonhap News reported.“Samsung got on the prosecutors’ nerves. The move to request an outside review is something that’s undercutting prosecutors and could enrage them,” said Chung Sun-sup, CEO at corporate research firm Chaebul.com. “Lee might have thought that he could get support from people who distrust prosecutors.”Read more: Samsung Heir Vows an End to Family Rule After Succession ScandalLee could face a prison sentence of several years in the current trial. Regardless of Covid-19, the outcome could prove a watershed moment in the sensitive relationship between the country’s corporate chieftains and government. The hearings, which will likely wrap late this year, are regarded by many observers as a litmus test for whether Korea’s courts are truly independent of the powerful business interests that hold sway over the economy.The 51-year-old Samsung heir convened a rare press conference in May to apologize for his company’s mis-steps over succession. Swearing his children would never run the company, he pledged to give back to society and praised his fellow citizens’ dedication throughout the outbreak. “It gave me a chance to look back on our past and as a member of the business community, I feel a greater sense of responsibility,” Lee said. “I pledge to create a new Samsung that is level with the national dignity of South Korea.”The surprise announcement drew public support from both ruling and opposition parties as well as the chairperson of the Fair Trade Commission. But critics and academics pounced on Lee’s comments as bereft of substance. That’s because it came just before a deadline set by an internal Samsung oversight body for just such an apology. The independent compliance committee, established this year after a judge in the graft trial questioned Samsung’s measures to prevent legal violations such as bribery, assessed Lee’s apology as a “meaningful” step but wanted more details.“Samsung has never done as much in the past” to assuage critics of the conglomerates, said Kyungmook Lee, a business professor at Seoul National University. “As the largest chaebol in South Korea, the way they contributed to the nation during the Covid-19 crisis and apologized over past wrongdoings is helping soften public sentiment and improve the image of both the company and its heir.”That’s important because suspicion of the judiciary in Korea runs deep. Over the past decade, at least half a dozen high-profile industrial magnates have been sentenced to prison for corruption, only to have those jail terms mitigated or suspended by the courts -- including Lee’s father. Even President Moon Jae-in, who swept into power on promises to clean up endemic corporate malfeasance, grappled with public outrage after a judge in Lee’s first trial unexpectedly freed him after just a year in prison. In suspending Lee’s sentence, the judge concluded the billionaire couldn’t resist requests from a sitting president and that the greater responsibility lay with public officials. Park Geun-hye, who was impeached in 2017, has denied taking any money for herself.Paranoia about chaebols’ influence continues to dog the second phase of Lee’s hearings, which commenced late last year after the Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s decision to suspend the mogul’s sentence and ordered a retrial. Lee’s hearing has been delayed for months as prosecutors argue that one of the appeals court judges overseeing the current case is biased and inclined to go lightly on Lee. The justice in question has shown a flair for the dramatic by, among other things, lecturing the executive at length in October on how he can better run Samsung, advising him to take inspiration from Israeli businesses. The appeals court judge has so far kept out of the fray.“In South Korea, the public opinion often influences trials and sways verdicts,” said Heo Pil-seok, chief executive officer at Midas International Asset Management. “While Samsung’s facing several critical situations, it’s trying to make a plea for clemency to the public,” he said, referring to not just its Covid-19 efforts but also Lee’s apology.Read more: Samsung Warns of Profit Slide After Virus Slams Tech SphereSamsung and Lee’s approach to the sudden flare-up of the novel coronavirus was in many ways no different than his peers’. Noted philanthropists Bill Gates and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. co-founder Jack Ma donated millions or offered technical assistance. Others like Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos, faced with public criticism that their companies are placing workers in jeopardy, focused their efforts on protecting the workforce. And tech corporations joined manufacturers around the globe in trying to plug a shortfall in ventilators and masks.Samsung representatives emphasized that the company’s main goal was to combat the disease, save lives and protect employees, and dismissed any suggestion they were connected to the hearing. In addition to dispatching personnel, the company also converted a training facility near Daegu into a treatment center, helped expedite business entries into China, even handed out free smartphones to quarantined patients.“Samsung Electronics is joining the global fight against COVID-19 to safeguard the health and safety of our employees, customers, partners and local communities,” it said in a statement. “The smart factory program and other global relief initiatives by Samsung Electronics have nothing to do with the ongoing legal proceedings over the case of Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee. Our efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus have always been to help our employees and their families that have been impacted by this pandemic as we are all in this together.”Samsung plays an unusually crucial role in Korea’s economy and national ethos. Its transformation from economic minnow to technology export powerhouse owes much to its family-run conglomerates. Known as chaebol -- which means “wealth clique” -- these pillars of the nation’s “miracle economy” encompass household names like LG, Hyundai and SK. They’ve supported government initiatives for decades, spearheading a modernization effort that’s created world leaders in shipping, steel, and now technology and electronics.Largest of them all is Samsung. The 82-year-old conglomerate is both a symbol of the Asian country’s technological and diplomatic rise as well as a touchstone for what many think is wrong with the economy today -- the overwhelming dominance of a handful of dynasties who call the shots in everything from cars to phones.“Samsung’s striving to overhaul its image to win a positive trial ruling,” said Chae Yibai, a former opposition lawmaker and a long-time corporate governance activist, referring to the months-long virus campaign. “The entire process is like a play, with a judge taking on the role of director and the compliance committee acting as a sub-director. The leading man is Lee.”South Korea’s Chaebol, Engines of Growth and Scandal: QuickTakeIn the current drama, Lee’s star is on the rise. His approval ratings in independent surveys have climbed since the conglomerate, heeding the government’s call, swung into action in March. The top keywords in domestic internet searches covering Lee from January to April were “virus” or “management,” according to surveyor Global Bigdata Research, pushing out trial-related terms among the top 30.He’s even won over some of the smaller businesses that’ve traditionally played second fiddle to the chaebols. Local mask manufacturer E&W said its output increased about 50% after it adopted Samsung’s solutions in its facility setup and distribution. Samsung also dispatched about 10 experts to each of four test-kit makers to instruct their engineers on how to ramp up volumes while resolving bottlenecks through automation. “Keeping a sound ecosystem of SMEs is essential to Samsung as well as for the long-term benefits of all economic players,” said Junha Park, head of Samsung’s smart factory operation team.Lee’s approval rating in surveys conducted by the Global Bigdata have risen in 2020 since the outbreak. They fell to 9.77% in the two days after his public apology, down from an average of 16.37% over the 30 days prior. But negative views also plummeted to 20.6% from 44.2%, while those on the fence shot up to 72.8% from 39.4%. That latter point is key.“Credibility is very important,” said Daniel Yoo, head of global investment at Yuanta Securities Korea. “Clearly the corporate image, about Samsung and South Korea, has been improving.”Chaebol Backlash Loses Bite as Jailed Execs Walk Free: QuickTakeThe most immediate challenge for Samsung is empowering and keeping its de facto leader free during an era of heightened uncertainty. Regardless of the personal outcome of that trial, the longer-term perceptions of chaebols may hinge on Lee’s promise to corporatize Samsung. Some view his vision as the first step in finally reining in the chaebols, by breaking decades-old succession lines. Others suspect Samsung will find some other way to safeguard the Lee family’s control. That’s because it’s not up to Lee, but to the company’s shareholders and board, said Shin Se-don, an emeritus professor of economics at Sookmyung Women’s University.“The apology was unlike Samsung,” said Shin, who worked at Samsung’s research institute in the late 1980s. “After Lee’s announcement, ruling and opposition parties both suggested Lee could be legally excused. That’s different from what most people think.”(Updates with prosecutors seeking an arrest warrant in the third paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Hong Kong’s finance industry is thriving from the great divorce between the U.S. and China. Billion-dollar initial public offerings are on the horizon again, as New York-listed mainland companies seek a second home. The city’s blue-chip index has even revised its weighting rules so tech stocks can feature more prominently. But is this enough to rouse a sleepy stock market? While Hong Kong is on par with Shanghai in terms of total market capitalization, turnover pales in comparison, and it's practically a stagnant pool compared with the very liquid Shenzhen bourse. While mega IPOs are exciting, they are one-time events. Once bankers earn their fees and wave goodbye, trading could languish again.South Korea may offer some insights. One year ago, Seoul was still in a deep bear market, plagued by steep conglomerate discounts and historically low turnover. Now, it’s teeming with life. Since global markets started turning around in late March, the benchmark Kospi index has soared more than 40%, making it one of the world’s best performers.All of a sudden, Koreans, who dabbled in cryptocurrencies and all sorts of structured products, are frantically buying cash equities. Retail investors have single-handedly supported the main stock index as foreigners and domestic institutional investors sold.CLSA Ltd. recently conducted a fascinating study explaining what’s become one of the Kospi’s largest ownership changes in history. Survey data show a few usual suspects: historically low deposit rates, cheap valuations, and blow-ups in popular alternative investments, such as mezzanine convertible bonds and equity-linked securities. A liquidity crisis and global market meltdown have tamed Koreans’ taste for exotic products.But the most interesting finding is that investors are swapping their real estate holdings for stocks. This comes as President Moon Jae-in’s administration has made it harder to invest in residential property, with a recent ban on mortgage lending for anything valued over 1.5 billion won ($1.2 million). In the past few years, a series of tightening measures has worked: A flattening of home prices, along with dwindling sales volumes, dented investor sentiment.Apartments in Seoul were once considered one of Korea's best performing long-term assets. They registered a capital gain of 80.9% over the past 15 years, with flats in the affluent Gangnam district returning more than 200%, data provided by CLSA show. Yet property restrictions look set to remain as long as Moon’s around — and he’s not required to leave office until 2022. So people with money to invest have to look elsewhere. Samsung Electronics Co., which gained 443% over the same period, is a good alternative. Retail investors have poured $7.2 billion into the company’s shares this year. Many of the catalysts that drove Koreans to stocks are present in Hong Kong, too. Interest rates are even lower and high-profile stocks are landing, including NetEase Inc., while Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. completed its secondary listing last year. Meanwhile, local investors can no longer count on HSBC Holdings Plc for reliable dividend payouts, forcing them to look at tech companies instead. It’s no coincidence that the retail portion of NetEase’s Hong Kong listing was met with brisk demand on the first day, enabling the company to increase its allotment to local investors. The missing piece, however, is real estate. As soon as Hong Kong loosened its social distancing rules in May, secondary home-sales prices ticked up, along with transaction volume. The Land Registry recorded 6,885 property deals in May, a 12-month high. The faith that this sector can outperform stocks hasn’t broken yet. For an equity market to shine, local retail participation is essential. Overseas institutional investors, the biggest contributors to Hong Kong’s turnover, come and go. Those from the mainland, now active players through the stock connect, are equally fickle, given they’re so used to liquidity-driven markets back home. So unless Hong Kong moms and pops can learn from the Koreans — trading away their flats in Gangnam for a slice of Samsung — the Hang Seng will remain asleep. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Shuli Ren is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Asian markets. She previously wrote on markets for Barron's, following a career as an investment banker, and is a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. is in talks with a rival to Huawei Technologies Co. as Boris Johnson’s officials revise the British government’s stance toward China in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.Officials spoke with Japanese technology company NEC Corp. in May as part of efforts to diversify the range of equipment providers for the U.K.’s fifth-generation mobile networks, a person familiar with the matter said. The government is also looking at Samsung Electronics Co Ltd as a possible option to provide crucial 5G infrastructure, the person said. The aim is to move the country away from reliance on Huawei, in the face of growing political opposition within Britain’s ruling Conservative Party and wariness toward China among the U.K.’s international allies.Johnson gave the Shenzhen-based telecommunications giant the green light to supply parts of the 5G networks in January, a move that angered U.S. President Donald Trump who had called for the company to be banned.But the prime minister and his close team have become far more skeptical of China since the Covid 19 crisis hit the U.K., as have others in his party. Tories, including officials in the administration, have been critical of Beijing over China’s handling of the initial stages of the coronavirus outbreak.Tory RevoltGovernment officials now believe it will be impossible to stop a revolt from Tory members of Parliament blocking Huawei’s involvement in 5G mobile networks when the government brings forward legislation later this year, people familiar with the matter said.The political reality of opposition to Huawei has made it urgent for Johnson’s ministers to push ahead with finding alternative providers so the country does not need to rely on Huawei for 5G systems in the longer term, the people said. Huawei equipment currently makes up about a third of Britain’s 4G mobile broadband antennas, and rules introduced in January meant it would be able to supply up to 35% of those for 5G, as well as full fiber broadband.Officials have been ordered to draw up plans to phase out the Chinese company’s involvement in U.K. 5G networks by 2023. But no single company can currently step in to replace Huawei entirely, which is why the government is looking to a range of companies to diversify the supply chain and end reliance on a handful of mobile network providers.The discussions between the government and NEC focused on bringing the company into the U.K.’s 5G market, at first potentially through a trial program to develop technical capabilities, called “5G Create.” A person familiar with the matter said the move showed the government is serious about diversifying the market and moving away from reliance on Huawei.More TalksSamsung, which currently has no 5G equipment in U.K. moble networks, will be invited in for talks with the government soon as part of the wider bid to diversify the network supply chain, the person said.The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is leading the work as part of a 200 million pound ($252 million) 5G trials program to develop the U.K.’s mobile network infrastructure. The company declined to comment.“NEC are currently involved in various 5G activities in different parts of the world but we are not able to comment on this specific project,” a spokesperson for NEC said in an email.U.S. officials have urged allies to ban Huawei from 5G networks on security grounds, arguing that its equipment could be used by Chinese spies, something the company has always denied.U.K. digital security officials are reviewing the role of Huawei in light of the U.S. government’s recent additional sanctions on the company, which could have a significant impact on British networks. “The security and resilience of our networks is of paramount importance,” a government spokesperson said.Boris Johnson Offers 3 Million Hong Kong Residents Haven in U.K.At the same time, Johnson’s team is responding to a broader shift in the West’s stance toward China.Political tensions have grown in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. China’s plan to introduce a new security law in Hong Kong, a former British colony, has also provoked dismay in London.Johnson has called on Beijing to back down but warned he’ll give as many as 3 million people the chance to seek refuge in the U.K. if the new security law is imposed on Hong Kong.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- When Justin Sun met Warren Buffett for dinner in January, he wasn’t seeking advice on stocks. The crypto mogul had spent a record $4.6 million at a charity auction for the opportunity to lecture the world’s most famous investor on the benefits of Bitcoin.It was exactly the sort of behavior that Sun’s known for -- abrasive, ostentatious and, ultimately, impossible to ignore. Like the $200 billion crypto industry itself, he is young and hungry for the respect of traditional financiers like Buffett, who deems Bitcoin basically worthless.Still shy of his 30th birthday, Sun founded one of the largest blockchain platforms, Tron, in 2017 and turned it into a virtual Las Vegas with gambling apps. He’s rubbed shoulders with Apple Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founders, hired celebrity endorsers like the late Kobe Bryant and drawn accusations of plagiarism, which he has denied, more than once. What he says and does can move crypto prices, and his aggressive acquisitions have earned him both admiration and notoriety in the blockchain community on his way to consolidating power.“I’m a true believer of blockchain. It’s once in a lifetime,” he said in a rare in-depth interview from a luxury office suite overlooking Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. “It’s only people who don’t understand it who question me.”Making his personal fortune by embracing Bitcoin as early as 2012, and now by his own account worth somewhere in the hundreds of millions of dollars, Sun is part of a second wave of crypto entrepreneurs who envision putting more than just digital money and payments on a decentralized platform. Last week, Sun and his team touted an upcoming major update to Tron, which will include more privacy features and enterprise applications.Newer blockchains like Tron let developers build so-called decentralized apps, or dapps, on their platforms. Ethereum is the foremost among them, with its co-founder Vitalik Buterin offering a simple analogy: if Bitcoin is a pocket calculator, platforms with dapps are akin to smartphones. But unlike Android or iPhone apps, dapps are decentralized in the sense that they aren’t run on one server or by any single entity.Sun’s Tron has 342 active dapps and more than 230,000 users, both roughly half Ethereum’s totals, according to data tracker Dapp Review. It’s been accused by researchers like Digital Asset Research of copying Ethereum’s code without attribution, and by Buterin himself of stealing words from other projects’ whitepapers. Tron and Sun have denied both accusations.The bulk of business done on Tron today revolves around the largely unregulated field of crypto gambling, with a January Dapp Review report describing it as “Las Vegas on the blockchain.” In the first quarter, casino dapps comprised 92% of Tron’s $411 million total transaction volume, according to the Binance-owned researcher. Sun said the Dapp Review estimate was inaccurate and over-stated the gambling activity on the Tron blockchain. In fact, such transactions are only a fraction of the total, he said.Sun “identified niche customer bases, namely gamers and gamblers, that have great reasons to use blockchain, drive a lot of transactions, and are crypto savvy,” said Matthew Graham, chief executive officer of Sino Global Capital, a Beijing-based blockchain consultancy.Since its inception, Tron has been augmented with the acquisitions of live-streaming service DLive, briefly the exclusive online home of YouTube star PewDiePie, and file-sharing service BitTorrent Inc. Through a partnership with Samsung Electronics Co., Tron dapps can be downloaded via one of the world’s most widely distributed mobile app stores.Sun has proven himself an able marketer, raising $800,000 in under five minutes through a public token sale for his lending platform, called Just. He also commands an audience of two million Twitter followers.But he’s also been challenged on basic information. While Sun said he often covers the $5 million quarterly operational costs for Tron, Ryan Dennis, a spokesman for the nonprofit Tron Foundation that coordinates the blockchain platform’s operations, denied that figure -- saying they won’t be able to get accurate cost numbers “due to the coronavirus pandemic changing everything on a day-to-day basis.”As a sociology student in the U.S., Sun founded an online magazine about current affairs -- though it closed after he was accused of plagiarism by another author. Sun has denied the accusation, saying he merely imitated the author’s style.He then made the switch to tech.After an unsuccessful attempt to set up China operations for American crypto company Ripple in 2014, Sun went back to the drawing board with $5 million of venture-capital money from backers like IDG Capital and ChinaEquity Group. He tried almost every hot idea in China’s internet space, finally finding success in Peiwo, which let users connect with random strangers via voice messages. That app would later be slammed by China’s top state news agency for spreading vulgar and pornographic content.On social media, he billed himself as Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma’s first millennial protégé, since he was picked up in 2015 by the billionaire’s MBA program. When fellow tech entrepreneurs ran into cash crunches, he was often quick to say he would lend them money. He said he had a 100 million-yuan ($14 million) charity budget for 2019, part of which was distributed in cash giveaway campaigns via his Weibo account.Sun’s dinner with Buffett is still the banner image on his Twitter profile. The meeting had been scheduled for last July, but three days before the planned date Sun rescheduled, citing a bout of kidney stones. Later that week, he took a selfie and then live-streamed himself with San Francisco’s Bay Bridge in the background to rebut a news report that he was under Chinese border control. He then apologized on Weibo to the Chinese regulators and public for his “excessive self-promotion.” He was banned from the microblogging site at the end of 2019. (Sun now has a team, including a photographer, to manage his Twitter and Instagram accounts.)Read more: Buffett Lunch Mystery Deepens as His Date Apologizes to SocietyWhen Sun finally sat down with Buffett, his entreaties crashed against a wall of skepticism.“It’s not just Buffett, the Chinese government also has the same attitude,” Sun said.Sun shut down his Beijing offices last year, after China launched a renewed crackdown on a crypto industry it views with suspicion. He said he hasn’t returned to mainland China since the end of 2018, though he’s not prohibited from doing so.During the Covid-19 pandemic, the jet-setting entrepreneur has been stuck in Hong Kong. But he has continued to stumble into controversy. In February, Sun bought the social network Steemit, billed as “owned and operated by its users,” along with 30% voting control over its platform. Fearing that gave Sun too much power, part of the Steemit community temporarily froze his stake and then split the blockchain into a whole new branch.“His playbook might be the optimal strategy during the early barbaric growth period of the crypto industry,” said Wayne Zhao, analyst and managing partner of researcher TokenInsight. “You are nothing without people’s attention, no matter if it’s good or bad.”(Updates with Sun’s comment in the eighth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Buried in a set of little-known data are early signs that the hardware side of the technology sector may be rebounding from the pandemic-driven plunge.Investors generally need to wait until a few weeks after a quarter closes to get a sense of how well (or badly) business has been, or hope that a company will provide an update when the situation changes. Except in Taiwan. A decades-old regulation requires companies there to report sales every month. This information isn’t useful only to investors in locally traded stocks. What’s listed is a broad range of companies that make chips, components, half-assembled modules and final products used in almost every electronics device in the world. The numbers can also provide a snapshot of output in China, where most Taiwanese technology manufacturers have the bulk of production.As early as January, it became obvious that the coronavirus would be a nightmare for tech companies. We now know that Apple Inc. posted a 7.2% drop in March-quarter sales of iPhones and iPads, while its major supplier, Foxconn Technology Group, suffered its biggest dive in revenue for seven years.More interesting is to see what’s been going on since. A look at April sales data from Taiwan enabled me to crunch numbers. What we find is a bounce in revenue that gives some hope for the global sector.Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Foxconn’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. are the most famous names in this data set, because they’re the biggest in their category and have a VIP client list that includes Apple, Qualcomm Inc., Huawei Technologies Co. and Sony Corp. Yet hundreds of others, such as Pegatron Corp., Quanta Computer Inc. and Largan Precision Co., collectively supply most of the industry.By aggregating the data month by month, comparing to a year earlier to smooth out seasonality, and looking at the sub-sectors within tech — defined by the Taiwan Stock Exchange — such as components suppliers, chipmakers, or computer assemblers, we can get an understanding of what was happening just a few weeks ago.Computers and peripherals, which include major PC and server makers Quanta and Compal Electronics Inc., showed the largest rebound, from an 11.9% drop in the January to March period to a 7.9% rise in April. Electronics parts and components, such as circuit-board supplier Compeq Manufacturing Co., turned a mild decline into solid growth, from a 3.1% decline into a 9.1% increase. Other electronics, including Hon Hai, which not only assembles iPhones but servers and networking equipment, went from an 11.8% fall to flat. Chips, headlined by TSMC, remained incredibly strong. Optoelectronics, which is largely displays and camera modules, shows a prolonged decline.One of the key takeaways is the relative strength in corporate-focused hardware, and possible continued weakness in gadgets. Foxconn pointed to this earlier in May, when it told investors that its consumer-devices division, which encompasses iPhones, would fall at least 15%, while enterprise products would climb 10%.There are two important caveats to the data.The first is that they track just Taipei-listed companies, and not some big names like Huawei and Samsung Electronics Co., which also manufacture their own hardware. However, it’s a like-for-like comparison — those companies aren’t included in last year’s data, either — and the broad reach of Taiwan’s tech sector means that even Huawei and Samsung are likely part of its supply chain.A more important note is that this is just for one month. Some of that April uptick is simply catch-up production for time lost at the height of the pandemic. Yet clients wouldn’t place orders if they didn’t feel that there’s end-demand somewhere. Autos and textiles are cutting production and shuttering factories in the knowledge that such a pickup in sales isn’t likely. With global turmoil making companies reticent to give predictions, investors wait in the dark for an update or a quarterly conference call. Even if we don’t know whether this is a true rebound, or merely a dead-cat bounce, at least there’s more timely data available to examine.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. pioneered the use of live-streaming hosts to sell everything from lipstick to smartphones in China. Now, the e-commerce giant wants to repeat that success globally with the help of a million influencers on forums from TikTok to Instagram.AliExpress, the company’s online marketplace for shoppers outside China, is on the hunt for social media personalities to hawk wares on its online malls around the world. It’s looking to attract more than 100,000 content creators this year to its recently launched AliExpress Connect, rising to over a million in three years. The platform offers a matchmaking service, helping pair social media influencers with brands and merchants looking to market their products. Its initial focus is Europe, where Russia, France, Spain and Poland comprise the majority of users.Alibaba hopes to replicate the success it’s enjoyed with so-called key opinion leaders driving sales on its China online marketplace Taobao. “For both Taobao and AliExpress, social content is a way to diversify offerings, but not to generate revenue,” Yuan Yuan, head of operations for AliExpress, told Bloomberg News. Influencers will help users stick with the platform instead of just making a one-time purchase. “The goal is to accumulate users, keep them there and encourage them to remain active.”China’s largest e-commerce company currently gets just a fraction of its retail revenue from outside its home country, but it’s harbored bigger international ambitions for years. The move marks Alibaba’s latest global push and comes at a time when Covid-19 is fueling an unprecedented boom in social media. The company’s rivals, including TikTok proprietor ByteDance Ltd. and Tencent-backed Pinduoduo Inc., are playing catch-up in live streaming and other means of social commerce championed by the Taobao Live app.Global social giants like Facebook Inc. have also added new features that support online shopping. In the U.S., more than 75 million social-network users aged 14 or older are expected to make at least one online purchase this year, up over 17% from 2019, according to research firm eMarketer.Influencers and content creators can sign up for Connect using TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and other social accounts. They can then solicit assignments from AliExpress merchants seeking help in promoting their goods or services. This gives the influencer options, from merely reposting the seller’s social media posts to creating original videos. Commission fees can be based on the sales the influencers generate.AliExpress is one of two Alibaba online bazaars for international buyers, the other being the Southeast-Asia-focused Lazada. AliExpress merchants are mainly small, export-oriented businesses in China, but global brands like Samsung and Oral-B have increasingly set up shop on the platform, targeting regional markets. Its top consumer markets include Russia, the U.S., Brazil and Spain.Yuan said AliExpress aims to help at least 100 of its army of a million influencers earn an annual income of more than $1 million within three years. “Only if they can make money will they be motivated to create good content for our platform,” she said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Arm Ltd., whose technology is a key component of chips that run most of the world’s smartphones, is offering new designs aimed at boosting the performance of Android handsets.The U.K. company said its new A78 model will offer a 20% increase in performance over its predecessor and announced a new Cortex-X program that will help chipmakers customize their offerings to deliver bursts of as much as 30% more processing speed.Arm offers chip designs and licenses the fundamental code used by processors to communicate with software that runs phones. Most Android phone makers use chips from Qualcomm Inc. or Mediatek Inc. Samsung Electronics Co. and Huawei Technologies Co. use those chipmakers’ components and their own products. Apple Inc. is an Arm licensee, but designs its own A series processors that are typically rated the speediest available.The customization that Apple has been able to bring to its own combinations of software and hardware has allowed it to claim performance leadership over phones that run Alphabet Inc.’s Google Android operating system. Such claims feature heavily in Apple’s marketing of the iPhone.“The pace of increasing performance in smartphones exceeds that of any other computing device category in the industry today,” Arm said in a statement. “To address this insatiable demand for the highest performance possible, we’re introducing a new engagement program called the Cortex-X Custom program to give our partners the option of having more flexibility and scalability for increasing performance.”Cortex X will let chip and phone makers add a different mix of cores to the combinations of components that run major smartphone functions. Current designs feature uniform sets of cores and more power-efficient ones that are used to maintain background functions without draining the battery. Arm’s new offering changes this approach. An X core might kick in for a short time, for example, when a piece of software is demanding the absolute maximum performance the chip can provide.Cambridge-based Arm is a division of Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. Like other companies that rely on the smartphone market, Arm is looking for ways to help spur demand for the devices. The market already had stalled before the Covid-19 outbreak curbed sales and disrupted supply chains. In the first quarter of 2020, smartphone shipments dropped 12% from a year earlier, according to IDC.In addition to more powerful and efficient designs for the handsets, the smartphone industry is banking on faster fifth-generation, or 5G, networks to persuade consumers to upgrade their phones.Arm is also offering a new graphics chip design that will handle video and gaming content better, and updated machine-learning capabilities to help with artificial intelligence workloads.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- South Korean prosecutors have summoned Samsung Electronics Co. Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee for questioning in an ongoing investigation into alleged accounting fraud and a controversial 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates, dealing another legal blow to the country’s largest corporation.While expected, the decision marked a deepening of a long-running probe into the billionaire scion and his shipbuilding-to-smartphones Samsung Group conglomerate. The company’s de-facto leader was called into Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office at 8 a.m. local time Tuesday in relation to allegations over illegal acts in succession plans, the Yonhap News Agency reported. The summons came after the executive publicly apologized over his company’s role in scandals over his succession, which eventually led to the impeachment of former president Park Geun-hye. A spokesman at the agency confirmed Lee has been summoned, without elaborating.Lee has been at the center of a years-long scandal and graft trial that inflamed long-standing resentments against Korea’s most influential family-run conglomerates. He faces renewed charges of using gifts of expensive horses to win favor from the previous administration, which he has denied. The legal fight has disrupted his tenure at the helm of Samsung Electronics, the world’s leading producer of smartphones and memory chips. This month, the billionaire took the unusual step of apologizing for his role in the controversy, pledging his children would never run the conglomerate.“I give my word here today that from now on, there will be no more controversy regarding succession. There will absolutely be no infringement against the law,” Lee said at a hastily convened press conference at the time. “There will be no leaning on legal expediency or actions that cause ethical reproach. My sole focus will be on enhancing the corporate value of Samsung.”Read more: Samsung Heir Vows an End to Family Rule After Succession ScandalThe prosecutors office’s probe, which is separate from the corruption trial, centers on whether there were illegal acts during a merger between Samsung C&T Corp. and Cheil Industries -- the conglomerate’s de-facto holding company. That deal was regarded as an effort to cement Lee’s control over the conglomerate, which he has run since his father suffered a heart attack in 2014. Prosecutors are also likely to interrogate the heir about allegations of financial fraud at Samsung Biologics Co. The agency hasn’t brought any charges in the case so far. A Samsung Electronics spokeswoman declined to comment on Tuesday.Read more: The Never-Ending Trial Between a Billionaire Heir and His NationSamsung Group, South Korea’s largest conglomerate with more than $400 billion of market value, has grappled with legal issues for years. Dozens of current and former executives have been questioned, indicted or arrested over charges that range from graft and accounting issues to union-busting. Lee was imprisoned for about a year until his release in early 2018, then returned to court for a retrial last year when the scope of the alleged wrongdoing was revised. He again faces the possibility of jail.The current prosecutors’ probe kicked off after the country’s Financial Services Commission in 2018 said Samsung’s biotechnology unit “intentionally” violated accounting rules surrounding an initial public offering. The regulator said at the time the unit deliberately overstated the value of Samsung Bioepis Co. ahead of its 2016 IPO. Critics argued that Samsung Group orchestrated the accounting change to benefit the merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries, which made Lee the largest shareholder at Samsung’s de-facto holding company and bolstered his succession plans.Samsung Biologics has denied the allegations and said its books were examined by external accounting firms, and that it had no impact on the 2015 merger as that was completed before the bio firm’s accounting change.(Updates with Samsung’s response in the fifth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The list of Intel Corp.’s annual supplier award winners tends to read like a who’s-who of the semiconductor industry’s biggest names. This year, it included a little-known Japanese company whose machines have become indispensable in the race to improve semiconductors and whose stock has been rocketing up as a result.Lasertec Corp. is the world’s only maker of testing machines required to verify chip designs for the nascent extreme ultraviolet lithography (or EUV) method of chipmaking. In 2017, Lasertec solved a key piece of the EUV puzzle when it created a machine that can inspect blank EUV masks for internal flaws. Last September, it cleared another milestone by unveiling equipment that can do the same for stencils with chip designs already printed on them. This March, Intel gave the tiny Yokohama-based company an award for innovation, its first after decades of doing business together.“That’s a major milestone for us,” Lasertec President Osamu Okabayashi said in an interview. “It means a lot to be recognized this way as a supplier.”The company’s stock has soared about 550% since the start of 2019, more than twice the gain of the second-best-performing security in the benchmark Topix index. Shares increased about 4% Tuesday, pushing its rise this year to more than 60%.Intel declined to say if it was buying EUV equipment from Lasertec, which already supplies test gear to its rivals Samsung Electronics Co. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. The three chip fabricators are the only ones so far to announce EUV plans, because the technology is so complex and expensive. Okabayashi would only say that his company has “two or more” EUV customers.“This can be read as a sign that Lasertec’s tools are indispensable to Intel’s EUV roadmap.” said Damian Thong, an analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd.Read more: Japan’s Star Electronics Stock Will Be Vital to Intel, SamsungEUV is just entering the mass production phase after two decades in development, but investors are already betting Lasertec will be one of the key beneficiaries. The move to EUV overcomes key hurdles to shrinking manufacturing geometries of semiconductors, allowing more and smaller transistors to be crammed onto silicon. It promises to unleash another wave of gadgets that are slimmer, cheaper and more powerful.Last month, Lasertec raised its annual order forecast for the second time this year to 85 billion yen ($789 million) in the period ending June, nearly double the amount it received in fiscal 2019. The company is headed for the fourth straight year of record revenue and profits. Sales will climb 39% to 40 billion yen and profit will jump 76%, according to its estimates. And that’s likely to be just the beginning.Samsung earlier this month said it is building a 5-nanometer fabrication facility that will use EUV to make processors for applications ranging from 5G networking to high-performance computing from the second half of next year. Taiwan’s TSMC is pushing ahead with plans to adopt 3-nanometer lithography mass production in 2022 and announced plans to build an advanced fab in the U.S. Intel’s first product made using EUV is expected late next year.Their primary focus is on so-called logic processors, used to power devices and networking applications, but the new manufacturing technique will eventually filter through into the production of DRAM and other memory chips.Read more: Samsung Takes Another Step in $116 Billion Plan to Take on TSMC“Logic makers will be first to adopt EUV, with memory makers following later,” Okabayashi said. “The real volume of orders will come when they reach mass production stage. Right now it’s 7- and 5-nanometer chips. 3-nanometer is still in development stage.”Okabayashi expects each customer will probably need several of his testers, which could cost well over $40 million apiece and take as long as two years to build. A chipmaker would need at least one machine in its mask shop to make sure the stencils come out right. Another would go into a wafer fab to keep an eye on the microscopic wear and tear that result from concentrated light being projected repeatedly through the chip design stencils.“Lasertec is still trying to get a feel for this market and how big it can be,” Macquarie’s Thong said. “Their stock is moving on expectation of future orders. But there is little actual visibility on the scale of this market, so Lasertec retains a lot of capacity for surprise.”(Updates with share price in fourth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Huawei Technologies Co. has sought high-level assurances from Samsung Electronics Co. and SK Hynix Inc. they will continue to supply memory chips despite mounting pressure from the U.S. to isolate the Chinese telecommunications company, the Korea Economic Daily reported.The Shenzhen-based company called in senior officials at the two South Korean chipmakers’ Chinese units to ensure a stable supply of the semiconductors regardless of recent U.S. government restrictions, the report said, citing unidentified industry sources. Representatives for the two Korean companies denied the report on Monday as Samsung said such meetings had not taken place, while Hynix didn’t elaborate.Huawei is one of the five biggest clients for Samsung and SK Hynix, spending around 10 trillion won ($8.1 billion) to buy DRAM and NAND flash memory chips from the Korean companies every year, the newspaper said. The report comes amid rising pressure against global suppliers after U.S. President Donald Trump barred any chipmaker using American equipment from supplying Huawei without U.S. government approval.While memory chipmakers aren’t subject to the U.S. government restrictions, Huawei worries that the Trump administration could widen its restrictions later, according to the report.As the two South Korean companies supply more than 70% of the DRAM chips globally, including them in any U.S. action would threaten the survival of the Chinese company, said the newspaper. It cited an industry official it didn’t identify as saying that Huawei is quickly building its memory-chip inventory in preparation for a worsening scenario.(Updates with Hynix and Samsung’s responses from the second paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co. has begun building a cutting-edge chip production line intended to help it take on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in the business of making silicon for external clients.South Korea’s largest company said it’s started construction on a 5-nanometer fabrication facility in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, dedicated to its made-to-order foundry business, an arena TSMC dominates. Based on the Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography or EUV process, Samsung expects the fab’s output to go toward applications from 5G networking to high-performance computing from the second half of 2021, it said in a statement.Samsung, the world’s largest maker of computer memory, smartphones and displays, in 2019 outlined its aim of spending $116 billion to compete with TSMC and Intel Corp. in contract chipmaking, making silicon for customers like Qualcomm Inc. or Nvidia Corp. Its announcement on Thursday coincides with the announcement of restrictions on the sale of semiconductors made with American gear to China’s Huawei Technologies Co., a constraint that threatens more than a tenth of TSMC’s business.“This will enable us to break new ground while driving robust growth for Samsung’s foundry business,” ES Jung, head of the contract chipmaking division, said in a statement.Read more: Behind Samsung’s $116 Billion Bid for Chip SupremacySamsung first unveiled its expansion blueprint in April 2019, outlining at the time its goal of hiring thousands and ramping up investment in logic chips in the years leading up to 2030. That initiative arose as sales of smartphones and consumer electronics plateaued and competition from Chinese rivals depressed margins.EUV is the latest and most advanced chipmaking method, requiring machines costing tens of millions of dollars and delivering better precision and performance in the chips it produces. TSMC and Samsung, through its spending plan, are the leaders in developing that process and expanding into 5nm and smaller manufacturing nodes.Before the arrival Covid-19, Samsung had begun collaborating with major clients on designing and manufacturing custom chips and that work was already starting to add to its revenue, a Samsung executive has said. The company’s newest fab in Pyeongtaek joins another 5nm facility in Hwaseong that will begin production in the second half of this year.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. have partnered to embed artificial intelligence capabilities into the Japanese company’s latest imaging chip, a big boost for a camera product the electronics giant describes as a world-first for commercial customers.The new module’s big advantage is that it has its own processor and memory built in, which allows it to analyze video using AI tech like Microsoft’s Azure, but in a self-contained system that’s faster, simpler and more secure to operate than existing methods.The two companies are appealing to retail and logistics businesses with potential uses like optimizing warehouse and factory automation, quantifying the flow of customers through stores and making cars smarter about their drivers and environment.At a time of increasing public surveillance to help rein in the spread of the novel coronavirus, this new smart camera also has the potential to offer more privacy-conscious monitoring. And should its technology be adapted for personal devices, it even holds promise for advancing mobile photography.Read more: Sony Releases Faster Camera Sensors With Integrated AIInstead of generating actual images, Sony’s AI chip can analyze the video it sees and provide just metadata about what’s in front of it -- saying instead of showing what’s in its frame of vision. Because no data is sent to remote servers, opportunities for hackers to intercept sensitive images or video are dramatically reduced, which should help allay privacy fears.Apple Inc. has already proven the efficacy of combining AI and imaging to create more secure systems with its Face ID biometric authentication, powered by the iPhone’s custom-designed Neural Engine processor. Huawei Technologies Co. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google also have dedicated AI silicon in their smartphones to assist with image processing. These on-device chips represent what’s known as edge computing: handling complex AI and machine-learning tasks at the so-called edge of the network instead of sending data back and forth to servers.“We are aware many companies are developing AI chips and it’s not like we try to make our AI chip better than others,” said Hideki Somemiya, senior general manager of Sony’s System Solutions group. “Our focus is on how we can distribute AI computing across the system, taking cost and efficiency into consideration. Edge computing is a trend, and in that respect, ours is the edge of the edge.”Sony’s advance is to eliminate the need for transfers within the device itself. Whereas Apple and Google still use conventional image sensors that convert light particles into computer-readable image formats for their chips to read, Sony’s new part is capable of doing the analytical work without any data leaving its physical boundaries.The AI-capable sensor may also help advance augmented reality applications. The two U.S. giants, whose iOS and Android operating systems control practically the entire smartphone market, are heavily invested in AR development. Google Maps now offers the option to show 3-D directions atop a video feed of a user’s surroundings while Apple is planning new 3-D cameras on its next set of iPhones in the fall. The agenda-setters of the mobile industry are looking for ever smarter mobile cameras, spurring the demand for more sophisticated imaging gear.Read more: Google Delivers an Answer to Apple on Augmented RealitySony already enjoys a substantial lead as the world’s foremost provider of image sensors, counting Apple, Samsung Electronics Co. and every major Chinese smartphone maker among its customers along with pro camera stalwarts like Hasselblad V, Fujifilm Holdings Corp. and Nikon Corp.Its next set of customers may be automakers.The AI-powered Sony sensor is capable of recording high-resolution video and simultaneously conducting its AI analysis at up to 30 frames each second. That rapid, up-to-the-microsecond responsiveness makes it potentially suitable for in-car use such as detecting when a driver is falling asleep, Sony’s Somemiya said. Without the need for a “cloud brain” as some existing systems have, Sony’s AI sensor could hasten the adoption of smart-car technology.”This on-chip approach enables a system design to be more flexible and even optimized, given that the cost of image processing, which is one of the most compute-intensive tasks for autonomous driving, can be offloaded from an electronic control unit,” said Shinpei Kato, founder and chief technology officer of Tokyo-based Tier IV Inc., which develops self-driving software.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. plans to spend $12 billion building a chip plant in Arizona, a decision designed to allay U.S. national security concerns and shift more high-tech manufacturing to America.TSMC said Friday it will start construction of its next major fabrication facility in 2021, to be completed by 2024. While the investment falls short of its previous expenditure on cutting-edge factories, it’s a shift for a company that now makes semiconductors for major names like Apple Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co. mainly from its home base of Taiwan.As the world’s largest and most advanced maker of chips for other companies, TSMC plays a crucial role in the production of devices from smartphones and laptops to servers running the internet. Its decision to situate a plant in the western state comes after White House officials had warned repeatedly about the threat inherent in having much of the world’s electronics made outside of the U.S. TSMC had negotiated the deal with the administration to create American jobs and produce sensitive components domestically for national security reasons, according to people familiar with the situation.The Asian chipmaker’s U.S. investment underscores the delicate balance it needs to strike between its huge roster of American clients and China, which views independently governed Taiwan as part of its territory. Beijing’s ambition of creating a world-class domestic semiconductor industry has unnerved Washington, which fears the country’s technological ascendancy may pose a longer-threat. Executives at TSMC, which operates plants in Nanjing and Shanghai and makes chips that go into everything from 5G networks to American fighter jets, have emphasized the company is neutral.“The scale & technology is similar to what TSMC did in China, suggesting a balance between the U.S. & China,” Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analysts led by Mark Li wrote after the announcement. “Overall, this is probably the minimal price to stay neutral. TSMC needs both U.S. & China to maintain scale & stay competitive and this is probably the minimal cost to keep this strategy.”Read more: Huawei Warns of ‘Pandora’s Box’ If U.S. Curbs Taiwan SupplyThe envisioned facility represents a small step in global industry terms. Upon completion, it will crank out 20,000 wafers a month, versus the hundreds of thousands that TSMC’s capable of from its main home base. And it will employ 5-nanometer process technology, a current standard that will likely become a few generations old by the time output begins in a few years.The higher cost of operating in America may have been a factor ahead of the decision. A true cutting-edge fab is expensive to build: The company spent NT$500 billion ($17 billion) to build an advanced facility in the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan that will supply new iPhones this year. It plans another $16 billion in capital spending in 2020. The Arizona plant still requires approval from TSMC’s board, which may hinge on incentives.“There is a cost gap, which is hard to accept at this point. Of course, we have -- we are doing a lot of things to reduce that cost gap,” TSMC Chairman Mark Liu said on a recent analyst conference call.U.S. Won’t Tolerate Tech Fence-Sitters Any Longer: Tim CulpanIf the federal government provides cash for a U.S. plant, it’ll mark a shift in policy and rhetoric from a Republican administration. Trump’s White House has rarely supported such direct industrial intervention, favoring market dynamics. A similar government-backed effort with Foxconn -- Apple’s main iPhone assembler -- in Wisconsin has so far not created as many jobs as expected.However, emerging trends may be forcing a reconsideration. The U.S. government is already giving or lending billions of dollars to keep companies afloat in the midst of a pandemic-fueled recession. The crisis has also highlighted how vulnerable global supply chains are to such shocks.The White House may also be motivated by broader political factors. Trump has attacked international trade deals and tried to limit China’s access to semiconductor technology, seeking to contain the country’s technological ascent. TSMC said its Arizona facility will create 1,600 jobs and a deal to bring highly skilled work to Arizona may help Trump’s re-election prospects this year.“TSMC’s plan to build a $12 billion semiconductor facility in Arizona is yet another indication that President Trump’s policy agenda has led to a renaissance in American manufacturing and made the United States the most attractive place in the world to invest,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.By producing chips for many of the leading tech companies, TSMC has amassed the technical know-how needed to churn out the smallest, most efficient and powerful semiconductors in the highest volumes. It manufactures important components designed by Apple and most of the largest semiconductor companies, including Qualcomm Inc., Nvidia Corp., Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and China’s Huawei. Shares of Applied Materials Inc., Lam Research Corp. and KLA Corp. rose on optimism that these U.S.-based providers of chipmaking equipment may face fewer export controls when supplying TSMC.Concentrating such valuable capabilities in the hands of one company in Asia is a concern for the U.S., especially when, across the Strait of Taiwan, China is rushing to develop its own semiconductor industry.TSMC’s local rival, GlobalFoundries Inc., has given up on advanced manufacturing and Intel Corp., the world’s largest chipmaker, mainly manufactures for itself. Its attempt to become a so-called foundry for external clients has failed to gain major customers. TSMC’s only other significant challenger is South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co., which is investing more than $116 billion in its effort to keep up with the leader.“TSMC welcomes continued strong partnership with the U.S. administration and the State of Arizona on this project,” the company said in a statement. “This project will require significant capital and technology investments from TSMC. The strong investment climate in the United States, and its talented workforce make this and future investments in the U.S. attractive to TSMC.”Read more: Foxconn Factory Subsidy Estimate Slashed by Wisconsin Agency(Updates with analyst’s comment from the fourth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
While sports remain shut down in the U.S., pro baseball is starting up again in South Korea—and ESPN bought the rights to air the games.
Samsung has apologised after customers were left "freaked" and "scared" when an alert was sent accidentally overnight. In its reply, Samsung said the alert was "sent unintentionally during internal testing and there is no effect on your device". Samsung's Find My Mobile service helps to locate phones and tablets and protects data, it says on its website.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review: back to the folding flip phone futureRevamp of 2000’s flip phone means big screen folds in half into a compact clamshell that fits in small pockets
The Space Selfie device, which the company said aimed to capture images "using a unique view of planet earth as the backdrop," was found by Nancy Mumby-Welke and her husband on Saturday morning after they heard a loud crash on their property in Gratiot County, Michigan. Samsung confirmed in a statement that the device "came back down to earth," but described its descent as an "early soft landing in a selected rural area" that was "planned" because of US weather conditions. "No injuries occurred and the balloon was subsequently retrieved," Samsung said.
Anyone's fingerprint can unlock the Samsung Galaxy S10, the company has confirmed.As with other recent phones, all of the sensitive information on the Samsung phone is protected by a fingerprint sensor, which is intended to ensure that only the owner can unlock the phone.
Samsung's news "phablet" device, the Galaxy Note 10, is being launched tomorrow - but a lot has already leaked ahead of the event in New York. The company announced Wednesday's launch event earlier this year with a teaser invitation featuring a stylus ahead of a small camera, suggesting the event will be for the successor device to the Galaxy Note 9. Whether Samsung has managed to keep any details under tight wraps or whether the whole thing has been spoiled by eagle-eyed leakers is still up in the air.
Samsung is holding a special event on Sunday, 7 August - which the invite suggests will be a launch event for the new device in its "phablet" range. The invitation prominently features a stylus, suggesting the event will be for the successor device to the Galaxy Note 9 - which is widely expected to be called the Galaxy Note 10. Samsung's Galaxy Note range has recovered following the disastrous launch of its Note 7 device, which was recalled after numerous devices caught fire due to faulty batteries.