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Samsung, SK hynix tipped to share biz info amid U.S. pressure

All News 11:09 November 03, 2021

By Woo Jae-yeon

SEOUL, Nov. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top two chipmakers -- Samsung Electronics Co. and SK hynix Inc. -- are expected to submit information on their chip businesses to the U.S. government by the Nov. 8 deadline, industry sources said Wednesday.

In late September, the U.S. Department of Commerce asked major chip companies and automakers to "voluntarily" share business information to address the global chip crisis, following President Joe Biden's executive order to secure and strengthen America's supply chains for key products.

Kim Ki-nam, vice chairman & CEO of Samsung's device solutions division, said the company was "calmly" preparing answers to the request during a meeting with reporters at the Korea Electronics Show (KES) last week.

"We are internally reviewing the matter and are in close talks with the (South Korean) government," said SK hynix CEO Lee Seok-hee, who also attended the event.

Samsung's memory products are on display at the Korea Electronics Show (KES) 2021 at COEX in Seoul on Oct. 27, 2021. (Yonhap)

The information request by Washington has immediately spawned concerns about the possible leak of what chipmakers consider as major trade secrets, as questions touch upon a wide range of issues, including investment, inventories, pricing, customers and sales.

It also raised questions on how to answer those sensitive questions while complying with filings and information disclosure rules required for publicly traded companies.

While the U.S. government said the information sharing is "voluntary," South Korean companies are under pressure to file the information as requested.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo warned if companies did not respond to the request, "then we have other tools in our tool box that require them to give us data. I hope we don't get there. But if we have to, we will," according to Reuters.

"There seems no other choice but to comply with the request," a Samsung official said on the condition of anonymity.

South Korea's Industry Minister Moon Sung-wook is said to be planning a U.S. visit this month to discuss the matter with Raimondo and relay the growing concerns.

Seoul and Washington have recently decided to establish a new director-level dialogue channel for regular discussions on semiconductor issues.

"We've fully explained the concerns to the U.S., and the two sides agreed to continue close consultations down the road," the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said on Oct. 26.

This file photo, provided by SK hynix Inc. on Feb. 1, 2021, shows the company's chip manufacturing plant in Icheon, 80 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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