Taiwan Business in Brief – September 2020

Taishin Acquires Prudential Taiwan

Taiwanese financial services firm Taishin Financial Holdings announced in August its 100% acquisition of Prudential Life Insurance Company of Taiwan for NT$5.5 billion (US$186.24 million). The deal comes after a series of bids were submitted to purchase the New Jersey-based insurance company’s Taiwan subsidiary, which has a staff of 700 sales personnel and 300 employees and began operating in Taiwan in 1989. Taishin has promised to retain all employees with benefits intact post-acquisition.

Prudential of Taiwan’s business focuses on whole life and other protection products for middle market and affluent customers. It is currently the fourth-largest foreign-owned life insurance provider in Taiwan by total assets. Prudential reportedly had been reevaluating its global business strategy to focus on Japan and higher-growth emerging markets around the world.

The deal is subject to review by the Financial Supervisory Commission, which grants approval based on the financial strength of the acquiring company. To fund its purchase of Prudential, Taishin has said it would consider selling 300 million of its shares in the state-run Chang Hwa Bank.

ASE Begins Fab Expansion Plan

ASE Technology Holding Co., the world’s largest chip testing and packaging company, broke ground in August on a new fab at the Nantze Export Processing Zone in Kaohsiung. The company is investing NT$26 billion (US$880.58 million) in the fab, which it is calling K13. It is the first of six fabs to be built under the company’s five-year expansion plan to boost advanced packaging and testing capabilities for 5G-related chips. 

The rapid introduction of 5G in countries throughout the world has increased demand for semiconductors. In response, ASE is accelerating its adoption of smart manufacturing processes and expanding its production capacity. Once at full capacity, K13 is expected to generate annual revenue of US$500 million and create 2,800 jobs.

Cisco and MOEA Launch 5G Lab

U.S.-based tech multinational Cisco Systems has partnered with MOEA to launch a new 5G “open lab.” The project is adopting the concept of an O-RAN (open radio access network) for 5G in Taiwan, allowing multiple vendors to be involved in building out network infrastructure. Until now, Taiwan’s telecom providers have relied on legacy systems from companies like Ericsson and Nokia, which use proprietary hardware and software and  are expensive to install and maintain.

Cisco has been urging the government to adopt the “white box” approach to building 5G networks in Taiwan since it began preparing to introduce the new generation of cellular communications in 2018. The company argues that with an open architecture, the total cost for capital and operating expenses could be as little as half that of a legacy system.

Ther new lab is intended to provide a platform for local manufacturers to access Cisco’s cloud-based mobile network to develop 5G network equipment, including small-cell base stations, modems, network switches, and IoT devices. MOEA says the lab would allow these firms to access the lucrative 5G market and would also help build up an indigenous supply chain network for 5G in Taiwan.

Mediatek Hires Ex-U.S. Official

Patrick Wilson, former director of the Office of Business Liaison at the U.S. Department of Commerce, joined Taiwanese chipmaker Mediatek Inc. in late July as vice president of government affairs. In addition to his work in the Commerce Department, Wilson also led government lobbying efforts for the Semiconductor Industry Association.

Wilson’s hiring reflects the effort by numerous multinational companies to navigate the current geopolitical rivalry between the U.S. and China, which has put many of them in a tough position of having to choose a side. Another prominent example is the hiring by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) of a former lobbyist for Intel to help cope with Trump administration pressure on companies to stop doing business with China’s tech sector.

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