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Samsung dumps ASML shares for $3.3 billion investment war chest

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ASML's logo is seen on the day of the presentation of the 2011 fourth quarter and annual results in Veldhoven January 18, 2012. [REUTERS]
ASML’s logo is seen on the day of the presentation of the 2011 fourth quarter and annual results in Veldhoven January 18, 2012. [REUTERS]

Samsung Electronics shed additional shares of ASML as part of its efforts to rack up billions of dollars for future investment in chips, bracing for an expected industry upturn.

The Korean chipmaker offloaded 0.3 percent of its stake, or 1.17 million shares, in ASML from July to September which translates to some 1.3 trillion won ($997.3 million), according to its quarterly report filed Tuesday.

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This is the second time this year Samsung Electronics has offloaded its stake in the Dutch chip equipment company.

That is a total of 4.3 trillion won acquired from the selloff of ASML shares this year.

Samsung’s involvement in ASML goes back to 2012 when the Korean chipmaker acquired 3 percent of ASML’s shares at 700 billion won in order to tighten its partnership in lithography machine development.

In 2016, Samsung sold off 1.45 percent of its share at 740 billion won, for profit-taking.

Samsung Electronics now holds on to 1.58 million shares of ASML or 0.4 percent of it.

The consecutive offloadings come as Samsung Electronics scrambles to secure a sizable fund to make future investments, especially on chips as it expects the industry to take an upturn next year after hitting rock bottom this year.

Early this year, it also borrowed 20 trillion won from its panel-making subsidiary Samsung Display.

In a conference call in October, the Korean chipmaker said it would pour a record-high 53.7 trillion won in capital expenditure this year, 88.5 percent of which will be spent in the Device Solutions (DS) division which is responsible for its chip business.

This compares to 53.1 trillion won of capital expenditure last year.

It said the investment would focus on chip research and development, new technology and expansion of production capacity of advanced memory chips such as HBM.

Samsung’s chip inventory continued to stay high, however, as inventory assets of the DS division posted 33.7 trillion won as of the end of the third quarter, the report said. That is a 16.1 percent increase from the end of last year when it was 29.6 trillion won.

Global chip revenue is forecast to climb by 20 percent next year from $526.5 billion this year to $632.8 billion, according to IT market tracker IDC on Tuesday.

On the back of the AI boom, Samsung Electronics said it has already finished talks with its clients for HBM supply for next year. It said it will expand HBM production by more than twofold next year.

The quarterly report also said Samsung Electronics hired former Waymo designer Ahn Yoo-jung and Lee Byung-won, former deputy director general from the Ministry of Finance, as executives in charge of design and investor relations.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]