Singapore -- Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. said that its board has promoted Chia Song Hwee to the position of president and chief executive of the world's third-largest foundry service provider.
Chia, who had been serving in the capacities of chief financial officer, senior vice president and chief administrative officer for Singapore-based Chartered, in which the Singapore government owns a 60% stake, succeeds Jim Norling, who served as interim CEO after his predecessor Barry Waite retired in April.
According to company chairman Ho Ching, Chia "brings to the job an ideal blend of financial and business acumen, drive, and passion for success...the board decided that Chia was the best person to lead the Chartered team to its next level of performance and growth."
For Chartered, future success may depend on its ability to close the gap with foundry powerhouses Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and United Microelectron ics Corp., as the industry recovers from its worst downturn. Chartered has lost money in the past four quarters, while TSMC, Hsinchu, Taiwan, remained profitable during the same period, and UMC, also of Hsinchu, returned to profitability in the most recent quarter.
In a conference call with reporters today, Chia said his priorities as the new chief executive include expediting the company's return to profitability, boosting demand and upgrading to more high-end technologies.
Due to a lag in process technologies and the higher depreciation costs associated with its more recently-built fabs, Chartered must fill up 70% of its production lines to break even, while the longer-established TSMC and UMC have a break-even point of only 40%, analysts said.
Chartered has forecast a 40% run rate in the June quarter, far less than both the 80% TSMC has projected and the 70% forecast by UMC.
The selling prices for Chartered wafers should average $1,080 in the second quarter, compared with $1,689 for T SMC and $1,184 for UMC, according to Warren Lau, an analyst at HSBC Securities Asia Ltd. "That indicates Chartered's yield rates are not as good as those of its rivals'," Lau said.
Since joining Chartered in 1996, Chia has expanded his responsibilities into areas such as legal, finance, technology alliances, and strategic development, Chartered said. He also played a leadership role in forming Chartered's key partnerships and business relationships over the past several years.
Chia, 40, joined Chartered from Schlumberger, a global technology services company, where he served in the regional finance departments of two business units that offer products and technical solutions to the oil and gas exploration and production industries, as well as telecommunications.
Chia's previous position of CFO will be taken over by finance vice president George Thomas, who joined Chartered in May 2000 as group controller.