China’s chip champion SMIC offers executives US$3.7 million in shares in effort to retain semiconductor talent
- As part of a discounted shares scheme covering a quarter of SMIC employees, two top executives from TSMC and company chairman were each offered 400,000 shares
- SMIC is considered China’s best hope at achieving self-sufficiency in semiconductors, but US sanctions and a talent shortage have made it a difficult goal
“The main target for this stock incentive plan is not executives, but the technical core of the company,” said Zhou, the company‘s chairman, during the annual shareholders meeting held on the same day as the EGM, local media reported. He added that the scheme’s goal is to allow “core engineers to grow with the company”.
“The high rewards offered to Liang and his stay is an ideal demonstration about the company’s generosity to attract and retain foreign talent, especially from Taiwan,” said Charles Shum, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.
SMIC did not respond to a request for comment.
SMIC is the world’s fourth-largest chip foundry and China’s best hope at achieving self-sufficiency in semiconductors, an effort Beijing has sought to catalyse following sanctions from Washington that target advanced chip technologies. As a result, SMIC has been aggressively recruiting former engineers from TSMC.
In a resignation letter that was widely cited by Chinese-language media in December, Liang wrote that he was “astonished and puzzled” by SMIC’s decision to appoint the 75-year-old Chiang, a former boss of Liang at TSMC, as the company’s vice-chairman.
Despite spending billions of dollars on developing a world-class domestic chip supply chain, mainland China‘s semiconductor industry still suffers from a talent shortage, which is weighing on SMIC.
Although SMIC has shifted away from trying to develop leading-edge chip-making technology, as a result of the US sanctions, Bloomberg‘s Shum said China still lacks a talent pool large enough for SMIC to develop next-generation chip manufacturing technologies such as chiplets and advanced packaging.