Tsinghua Unigroup hires head of Micron joint venture in Taiwan

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 October, 2015, 11:40pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 October, 2015, 11:40pm

Chinese state-backed technology conglomerate Tsinghua Unigroup has hired Charles Kau, the chief of Micron Technology's Taiwanese joint venture, as its global executive vice-president, a source said.

The move was likely to help bolster the development of China's fledgling chip industry and give the Chinese tech conglomerate a foothold in its deal talks with Micron, analysts said.

Kau is the chairman of Inotera Memories, a joint venture between US-based Micron and Taiwan's Nanya Technology.

He resigned last week as president of Nanya Technology, although he continued as a board member of the company and as chairman of Inotera. Both Nanya and Inotera make dynamic random access memory chips.

Kau's hiring comes about three months after Tsinghua made an informal US$23 billion takeover offer for Micron that was rejected out-of-hand by the Idaho-based company's leadership, although the Chinese side had not given up on a deal, sources have said.

His presence in Tsinghua Unigroup could "conceivably facilitate greater collaboration" with Micron, according to Taiwan-based research firm TrendForce.

Kau, who played a role in the discussions between Tsinghua and Micron, would split his time between Beijing and Taiwan, the source said.

It remains unclear whether Kau, a veteran of Taiwan's semiconductor industry, will need to give up his position at Inotera.

According to Inotera's website, all of the company's production is supplied to Micron.

Nanya Technology appointed veteran executive Lee Pei-ing as Kau's successor. Lee said on Monday during an earnings conference that the company asked Kau to reconsider his resignation.

Kau said he wanted to do something different before retiring, particularly "in the financial and M&A space", but he did not detail what his next step was going to be, Lee said.

"He was very insistent and we were unable to keep him."