The Korea Herald


UAE prince’s visit to Samsung casts light on sale of GlobalFoundries

By Song Su-hyun

Published : Feb. 26, 2019 - 17:30

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A second meeting between Samsung Electronics’ chief and the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates raised speculations Tuesday that the South Korean tech titan could take over ownership of the world’s third-biggest foundry business, GlobalFoundries.

UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan was scheduled to visit Samsung’s production facilities in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, on Tuesday during his visit to Seoul.

Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong greeted the UAE prince and took him on a tour of major sites, including fifth-generation network technology and semiconductor production lines.

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

It is their second meeting in two weeks, following Lee’s visit to Abu Dhabi earlier this month.

“Prince Mohammed was briefed on Samsung’s progress in seeking for future businesses including 5G and semiconductors from Samsung’s top management officials,” said a Samsung public relations official. “Lee and Prince Mohammed discussed cooperation between Samsung and UAE companies on 5G, semiconductors and artificial intelligence.”

It was rumored that the UAE prince could visit Samsung’s extreme ultraviolet line that is under construction and is planned to be completed in the second half of the year. The new line is to be used for Samsung Foundry’s 7-nanometer process technology. But the visit was not publicly announced.

The possibility of the prince looking at Samsung’s EUV line had gained attention, as ATIC, the investment arm of the Abu Dhabi government, owns a 90 percent stake in world No. 3 GlobalFoundries, which has been on sale since last year.

Headquartered in Santa Clara, California, the US semiconductor foundry business announced it would quit developing the 7-nm process last year, due to technological limitations. The company has the third-largest market share after TSMC and Samsung, according to data from the International Business Strategies.

If Samsung acquires the UAE stake in GlobalFoundries, which takes up about 8 percent of the global foundry market, the Korean chipmaker’s total market share would increase to around 23 percent and it would become the only competitive rival to TSMC, which holds over 50 percent market share.

Samsung officials have denied speculation that Samsung could take over GlobalFoundries, though rumors that the company could buy a semiconductor business to strengthen its nonmemory business have persisted in the market since early this year.

“GlobalFoundries could be attractive in terms of securing a bigger market share and winning more customers, but it’s not what Samsung is going to do,” said an official. “Rather than simply taking over the market share, the company is looking for much higher levels of technologies.”

In his latest remarks regarding its chips business, Samsung heir Lee said to the ruling party’s floor leader Rep. Hong Won-pyo last month that Samsung would become No. 1 in the nonmemory and foundry market by 2030.

By Song Su-hyun (