Chinese equipment startup backed by Samsung, Qualcomm

March 7, 2007 – Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc. (AMEC), a Shanghai, China-based startup developing etch and chemical vapor deposition (CVD) systems targeting 65nm-45nm nodes and beyond processes, has received another cash infusion from sources including Qualcomm and Samsung.

The second closing of AMEC’s Series B round of investments totals $43 million, with $8 million each coming from Qualcomm and Samsung Venture Investment Corp. Gerald Yin, AMEC’s company cofounder, chairman, and CEO, noted in a statement that the investments “represents a significant vote of confidence in our progress.” A first closing of Series B funding in October amassed $35 million, with participation from VC firms and KLA-Tencor’s venture arm, KT Venture Group.

Under terms of its investment, Samsung Ventures will become an AMEC “board observer,” entitling it to attend some of AMEC’s board of directors meetings that do not discuss customer-specific information.

“AMEC’s vision to spearhead and strategically manufacture semiconductor capital equipment in Asia with a team of world-class industry veterans is the reason for Samsung Ventures’ investment,” said Bill Byun, managing director of Samsung Ventures, in a statement.

“By investing in AMEC, QUALCOMM will help to encourage innovation in the advanced semiconductor industry, helping bring more integrated and cost-effective chipsets to global manufacturers,” added Behrooz Abdi, SVP and GM of QUALCOMM CDMA Technologies. The Qualcomm investment is part of a $100 million program launched in June 2003 to invest in early- to mid-stage Chinese companies developing CDMA-based technologies and generally supporting the wireless ecosystem.

Besides Samsung, AMEC’s board “observers” include a host of VC and investor representatives, as well as Joe Laia, group VP of KLA-Tencor (representing the company’s VC arm). Directors include Yin, a former Applied Materials executive who was CTO of AMAT’s etch product business and CTO of its Asia unit, as well as Steve Chen, Lip-Bu Tan Chris Schaepe, and Larry Yoshida, former president of TEL. Advisory board members include Albert Yu, former SVP of Intel; Koichi Suzuki, president of Japan’s Premier Technologies and former Toshiba Semiconductor board member; Joseph Bronson, former president of FormFactor (and also a former AMAT exec), and Alain Harrus, VC advisor and former CTO of Novellus Systems.

Late last year details trickled out about the company’s technology and backing. AMEC said plans to do R&D and manufacturing in-house in Asia, and indicated that beta shipments would begin in 1Q07, to unidentified customers — although in a statement, board member Larry Yoshida (former president of TEL) had noted that the company is “preparing for market entry in Japan.”


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