U.S. Request Rattles Taiwan Chipmakers
The U.S. Department of Commerce on September 24 requested that semiconductor companies from around the world submit “information about inventories, demand, and delivery dynamics.” Information requested included the companies’ “book-to-bill” ratio – the ratio of orders received to units shipped and billed for during a specified time – and “an explanation for any changes in inventory practices.”
Taiwan’s semiconductor companies are concerned that divulging sensitive information may lead to market disadvantages and could compromise relationships with clients. Economic Affairs Minister Wang Mei-hua voiced concerns to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) regarding the possibility of leaks arising from the disclosures.
The U.S. government hopes the request will assist in “identifying data gaps and bottlenecks” across the supply chain. In a press conference held on October 29, AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk sought to reassure Taiwan’s chipmakers. Oudkirk stressed that the request was voluntary and “the Commerce Department has excellent safeguards on information.”
Companies have until November 8 to comply with the request. TSMC has stated it will submit the requested information by the deadline.
PX Mart to Acquire RT Mart
PX Mart announced on October 22 that it will acquire the Taiwanese hypermarket chain RT Mart. The deal, which is still awaiting regulatory approval, is expected to be completed in mid-2022.
French hypermarket operator Carrefour has also expressed interest in recent months in selling its Taiwan operations. According to PX Mart Chairman Lin Ming-hsiung, both Carrefour and RT Mart had approached PX Mart with offers to be bought out.
PX Mart, composed largely of supermarkets, has been seeking to expand into the hypermarket sector. RT Mart’s 20 outlets in Taiwan makes it the second largest hypermarket chain after Carrefour, which owns 66 outlets.
PX Mart is set to acquire RT Mart’s brand and all of its land, buildings, and distribution rights. Official financial details have not been provided, but observers estimate the acquisition price will exceed NT$13 billion (US$466 million).
Recently, PX Mart has added a number of new operations, including home delivery service, one-hour express delivery service, and a 24-hour online delivery service. These are available through 10 of its stores this year and will be expanded to all of its stores around Taiwan in 2022.
NDC Reports Continued Economic Boom for September
The National Development Council last week released a statement on Taiwan’s economic growth in September. For the eighth consecutive month, the NDC reported that its business climate index increased from 39 points for August to 38 in September and flashed “red” on its five-color system, indicating an economic boom.
The statement noted that exports were strong, owing to demand for 5G, electric vehicles, and ICT-related products. The NDC expressed confidence that domestic consumption will recover from the COVID-19 outbreak in Taiwan but warned that continued international trade and technology disputes may hurt growth.