Motorola buys Scottish fab

Neil Savage

DUNFERMLINE, SCOTLAND—To keep up with the burgeoning demand for chips caused by the growth in mobile communications, Motorola (Schaumburg, IL) will invest $2-billion in the Dunfermline, Scotland, fab shell abandoned by Hyundai two years ago.

The empty wafer fab, which Motorola is buying from Hyundai for an undisclosed sum, is expected to produce a $2 billion annual revenue stream when production is fully ramped up in five years, according to a company spokesman.

The fab, to be called MOS-18, is a 100,000-square-meter facility on a 150-acre site. It will produce 200mm wafers, most likely starting with 0.35-micron processing technologies, although plans are to move to 0.15-micron geometries within a couple of years. The product will mostly be the company's DigitalDNA chips, a BiCMOS-based technology for the wireless communications market. The company spokesman says there may be a mix of other products produced there as well.

The company plans to refurbish the fab and start production by late next year. “The main reason we want to do it is to feed a very hungry wireless market,” the spokesman says.

By 2005, the plant will employ approximately 1,350 people. Motorola is already the largest manufacturing employer in Scotland, with 6,500 people among its plants in East Kilbride, South Queensferry and Easter Inch. About 650 of the Dunfermline jobs are likely to come out of the South Queensferry plant.

“Our history of semiconductor manufacturing in Scotland will enable us to establish Dunfermline as a world leader in productivity and cost effectiveness, which are vital to Motorola's competitiveness,” says Bill Walker, senior vice president and director for the order fulfillment organization of Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector. He cites both current and anticipated future demand for chips as the reason behind the move.

This is the largest-ever European investment for Motorola, which has been operating in Scotland since 1967 and established its first manufacturing operations in East Kilbride in 1969. The company is one of the top 10 exporters in the United Kingdom.

Hyundai built the plant in 1997, but the downturn in the Asian economy caused it to mothball the facility (WaferNews, Jan. 12, 1998). The company also owns another empty fab in South Wales, and there is no word on its plans for that location. Infineon Technologies (Munich, Germany), the semiconductor arm of Siemens AG, owns an $840- million plant in North Tyneside, England, that has been idle for two years and is reportedly about to be sold. Infineon, meanwhile, operates the Semiconductor300 fab with Motorola in Dresden, Germany. In another joint venture, ProMOS, Infineon has agreed with its partner Mosel Vitelic (Hsinchu, Taiwan) to transfer 300mm wafer manufacturing technology to ProMOS.

Motorola also has property in Goochland County, VA, where it plans to eventually build a 300mm fab.

Article reprinted from WaferNews, a weekly newsletter published by PennWell covering the semiconductor equipment and materials community. For information on subscriptions, check the web at www.wafernews.com, or contact Christine Tourgee at (603) 891-9174, fax (603) 891-0574, or e-mail [email protected]

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