Power cut hits 6 Taiwan-listed chip firms

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Power cut hits 6 Taiwan-listed chip firms December 25, 2000 Web posted at: 11:07 PM HKT (1507 GMT)

TAIPEI, Taiwan (Reuters) -- A power failure at Taiwan's Hsinchu science park, heart of the island's high-tech industry, hit six locally-listed computer chipmakers late on Monday, state utility firm Taiwan Power said.

Taiwan's state-funded Central News Agency estimated total losses of all companies affected by the outage at about T$300 million ($9.05 million) .

Taipower spokeswoman Huang Hui-yu said a transformer at a plant belonging to memory chip firm Macronix (2337.TW) had suffered a malfunction and brought down power at the other firms. Macronix remains without electricity, she said.

"We will not supply power to the company with the malfunction until they solve the problem. Power was restored at the others at 8:22 pm (1222 GMT)" after the outage occurred at 6:34 pm (1034 GMT), Huang said.

A Macronix official, who declined to be identified, said the transformer problem had cut power at the company's second wafer fabrication facility. He declined to give further details.

Power had already been restored to the other firms, which included Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) (2330.TW) (TSM.N) and United Microelectronics (UMC) (2303.TW) (UMC.N), the world's top two made-to-order chipmakers, or foundries.

Dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chip firms Winbond (2344.TW), Mosel Vitelic (2342.TW), and Powerchip (5346.TWO) also lost power, Huang said.

A TSMC official said its eighth wafer fab, which was acquired in a merger with Worldwide Semiconductor a year ago, had lost electricity for only a short period.

"Fab eight was affected, but not greatly. It lost electricity briefly, and we immediately switched to a private power plant. It has resumed operation," the official said. He said the company was still calculating losses.

An UMC official said five of its seven wafer fabs in the science park had lost power, adding that the company had not yet compiled a damage estimate.

Winbond spokesman C.Y. Chang said the DRAM firm had lost power at fabs four and five. "The backup is on and there are no problems. Losses are probably several million Taiwan dollars," Chang told Reuters by telephone.

Officials of Powerchip and Mosel were not immediately available.

Besides the five listed firms, another five companies lost power, including Acer Display Technology, a member of tech conglomerate Acer Group, and a plant belonging to Philips Electronics (PHG.AS).

Companies at the Hsinchu science park have scrambled to improve their power supplies since a island-wide power failure in July 1999 and a devastating earthquake in September of the same year stalled production and caused billions of dollars in damage.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), December 25, 2000

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