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Israel’s Tower proposes $8 bln chip plant in India

11-02-2024

NEW DELHI/ BENGALURU: Israel’s Tower Semiconductor (TSEM.TA), opens new tab has submitted a proposal to India’s government to build an $8 billion chipmaking facility in the South Asian nation, national daily Indian Express reported on Sunday.

Tower, seeking government incentives for its plan, is looking to manufacture 65 nanometre and 40 nanometre chips in India, the report said.

The company and India’s IT ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Chip manufacturing is a key plank of Modi’s business agenda, but initial bids to offer $10 billion in incentives to the industry have floundered, with some proposals stalled or cancelled.

Meanwhile, big companies including a Foxconn joint venture that bid for India’s $10 billion semiconductor incentives are struggling due to the lack of a technology partner, a major setback for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s chipmaking ambitions.

A planned $3 billion semiconductor facility in India by chip consortium ISMC that counted Israeli chipmaker Tower as a tech partner has been stalled due to the company’s ongoing takeover by Intel, three people with direct knowledge of the strategy said.

A second mega $19.5 billion plan to build chips locally by a joint venture between India’s Vedanta and Taiwan’s Foxconn is also proceeding slowly as their talks to rope in European chipmaker STMicroelectronics (STMPA.PA), opens new tab as a partner are deadlocked, a fourth source with direct knowledge said.

Modi has made chipmaking a top priority for India’s economic strategy as he wants to “usher in a new era in electronics manufacturing” by luring global companies.

India, which expects its semiconductor market to be worth $63 billion by 2026, last year received three applications to set up plants under the incentive scheme. They were from the Vedanta-Foxconn JV; a global consortium ISMC which counts Tower Semiconductor (TSEM.TA), opens new tab as a tech partner; and from Singapore-based IGSS Ventures.

The Vedanta JV plant is to come up in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, while ISMC and IGSS each committed $3 billion for plants in two separate southern states.

The three sources said ISMC’s $3 billion chipmaking facility plans are currently on hold as Tower could not proceed to sign binding agreements as things remain under review after Intel acquired it for $5.4 billion last year. The deal is pending regulatory approvals.

Talking about India’s semiconductor ambitions, India’s deputy IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar told Reuters in a May 19 interview ISMC “could not proceed” due to Intel acquiring Tower, and IGSS “wanted to re-submit (the application)” for incentives. The “two of them had to drop out,” he said, without elaborating.

Tower is likely to reevaluate taking part in the venture based on how its deal talks with Intel pan out, two of the sources said.

ISMC consortium partners Next Orbit Ventures did not respond to a request for comment. Tower and Intel declined to comment. Singapore-based IGSS and India’s federal IT ministry did not respond to requests for comment. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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