Infineon boss Ploss
“Have become a strategic industry”
By Hannah Schwär and Horst von Buttlar
2/11/2022, 5:38 p.m
Billions for European mega-factories, failed takeovers and delivery bottlenecks – the chip industry is on the move. Infineon boss Reinhard Ploss welcomes the fact that Europe wants to fight for its own digital industry.
The chip industry is becoming more and more political, it is considered a key industry. Not only deals like those between the wafer manufacturers Siltronic and Globalwafers are prevented. With the European “Chips Act” the EU wants to invest a total of 43 billion euros in order to set up mega factories in Europe and to double the market share to 20 percent. “Semiconductors have become a strategic industry on a global scale,” said Reinhard Ploss, CEO of Infineon since 2012. in the podcast “The hour zero“. “Almost all countries are looking to advance their domestic businesses with government support, whether through investment or a red line on mergers and acquisitions.”
In this respect, Ploss was neither surprised by the blocked Siltronic takeover nor by government investments, which he advocates: “Put very fundamentally, Europe cannot afford to lose its digital industry and be dependent on other suppliers. Semiconductor manufacturers know very well how the products that their chips are built into work. It would be wise not to divulge this knowledge.” He did not want to comment on the Siltronic cause, said Ploss. “I applaud when awareness grows in Germany of how important it is to have its own digital industry. There’s still a lot to do there.”
According to the expectations of the Infineon boss, the lack of chips will continue: “We assume that we will have to live with bottlenecks well into 2022. We have invested a lot in our own production and built up capacities. For the majority of the self-made products should we will therefore be able to deliver into the summer. With all the products for which we work with contract manufacturers, it will take well into this year.”
Under Ploss’s leadership, sales and the share price have increased tenfold, and a troubled company has become one of the ten leading semiconductor manufacturers with a turnover of eleven billion euros. Why do we need tax money and “Chips Acts” now? “If you look at which other players are represented there, there is still a lot to do along the entire value chain, in applications and technologies,” said Ploss. “We as Infineon will not be able to do this alone, we do not have the range of products. We clearly need a concerted action, and as a company we are of course happy to contribute. This can be, for example, with cooperation in the areas of research and development as well as training and qualification start.”
The Infineon boss, who will be stepping down from his post at the end of March, was more cautious about the federal government’s goals of making Germany “the global location of the semiconductor industry”: “You have to set yourself ambitious goals in order to make progress. Whether we’re going to become a global hub now , but the older ones will perhaps remember that we even had computer manufacturers at one point, so you could definitely build up skills again in sectors that have disappeared here.
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