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ASML's expansion in S. Korea reflects its 'preparation for growth': CEO

Economy 14:04 November 15, 2022

By Woo Jae-yeon

SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- The CEO of the Dutch chip equipment maker ASML Holding NV said Tuesday building a new chip cluster in South Korea reflects the company's preparation for sustained growth in what he said is an industry that will only continue to expand.

Building a Korean supply base "is a significant opportunity" for the company to grow further, ASML President and CEO Peter Wennink said during a press briefing in Seoul.

Wennink is visiting the country to attend a groundbreaking ceremony, slated for Wednesday, for a new US$181 million chip cluster in Hwaseong, some 40 kilometers south of Seoul.

When completed by the end of 2024, the 16,000-square-meter cluster will include a local repair center, training center, R&D center for parts, and education and experience center.

"It is critical" to closely collaborate with local customers, he said, at a time when "the technical complexity (of chipmaking) goes up."

"Having a training center here" is also "very important because it will help bring the technology closer to the customers," he added.

The Dutch firm is the world's sole producer of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines, critical to making advanced chips.

South Korea, home to the world's two largest memory chip makers -- Samsung Electronics Co. and SK hynix Inc. -- is ASML's key market that represented 33.4 percent of its 2021 total net sales, according to the company. It was 29.7 percent the previous year.

ASML President and CEO Peter Wennink (L) attends a press conference in Seoul on Nov. 15, 2022, a day before the company holds a groundbreaking ceremony for a new chip campus in Hwaseong, some 40 kilometers south of Seoul.

ASML President and CEO Peter Wennink (L) attends a press conference in Seoul on Nov. 15, 2022, a day before the company holds a groundbreaking ceremony for a new chip campus in Hwaseong, some 40 kilometers south of Seoul.

While the headwinds from global macroeconomic woes will persist in the near term, the semiconductor industry will see a continued robust growth, Wennink said, driven by industry innovation, foundry competition and growing chip applications, such as automotive semiconductors.

The semiconductor market is estimated to double in size by 2030, reaching as much as $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion, he said.

"The demand for our products is still higher than what we can make," he said, adding, "Our customers must believe the duration of the recession is shorter than the average lead time for our machines."

The new Hwaseong cluster will help the company have a "stronger foothold" in South Korea that has a "high level of innovation and technical competence," as well as a great potential to "grow our supply base," he said.

Partly with the help of the expansion, Wennink hopes to triple the company's annual sales to 60 million euros by 2030.

The Veldhoven-based company set up an office in South Korea in 1996 and has grown to have around 2,000 local employees here. It plans to hire an additional 1,400 workers over the next decade.

Headquartered in Hwaseong, ASML Korea has three more regional offices, located in Icheon, Cheongju and Pyeongtaek, where its key Korean chip partners, Samsung Electronics and SK hynix, run mega chip manufacturing facilities.

It also operates a global distribution center in Incheon, 27 km west of Seoul.

ASML President and CEO Peter Wennink speaks during a press conference in Seoul on Nov. 15, 2022, a day before the company holds a groundbreaking ceremony for a new chip campus in Hwaseong, some 40 kilometers south of Seoul.

ASML President and CEO Peter Wennink speaks during a press conference in Seoul on Nov. 15, 2022, a day before the company holds a groundbreaking ceremony for a new chip campus in Hwaseong, some 40 kilometers south of Seoul.

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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