Texas wins contest to host Samsung’s new $17bn chip plant

Texas wins contest to host Samsung’s new $17bn chip plant
Texas beats Arizona, New York for new plant location. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 24 November 2021

Texas wins contest to host Samsung’s new $17bn chip plant

Texas wins contest to host Samsung’s new $17bn chip plant
  • Production to begin H2, 2024
  • Plant to create 2,000 high-tech jobs, 6,500 construction jobs

SEOUL/AUSTIN: Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. said on Wednesday it had picked Taylor, Texas as the location for a new $17 billion plant to make advanced chips for functions such as mobile, 5G, high-performance computing and artificial intelligence.
The plant would create 2,000 high-tech jobs with construction to begin in the first half of next year, and production due to start in the second half of 2024, the South Korean tech giant said. It would also create at least 6,500 construction jobs, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said.
The world’s biggest memory chipmaker and second-largest contract chip manufacturer had also considered sites in Arizona and New York for the plant, which will be much bigger than its only other US chip plant in Austin, Texas.
The company said it chose Texas based on factors such as infrastructure stability, government support and proximity to its existing plant.
Samsung is joining rivals TSMC and Intel in the race to expand chip contract manufacturing in the United States, where the sector is seen as an area of strategic competition with China.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has promised billions of dollars in federal funding to boost chip manufacturing and research to ensure it has an edge over China in advanced technologies and to address shortages for critical industries like autos.
“Securing America’s supply chains is a top priority for President Biden and his Administration,” US National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement welcoming Samsung’s investment.
“We will continue to use every tool and pursue every avenue to invest in our sources of strength like manufacturing and technology.”
Abbott, flanked at a press conference by Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Kinam Kim and US Senator John Cornyn of Texas, said the company’s decision was a testament to Texas’s economic environment built on low taxes, reasonable regulations and robust infrastructure.
Texas last winter suffered a multi-day, widespread power outage, causing some 300-400 billion won ($254-$339 million) in damages to Samsung’s existing chip plant in Austin, Texas.
“I’m extremely confident that the power grid is stable, resilient and reliable,” Abbott said on Tuesday when asked about electricity supply for the plant.
The new site in Texas’s Williamson County, which comprises the city of Taylor, offered the best incentives package of the sites Samsung was considering, sources previously told Reuters.
Senator Cornyn on Tuesday called on the Biden administration to invest more money to attract chip manufacturers to the United States, calling it a “national security imperative.”
“If China continues to saber-rattle, the majority of the world could be at their mercy when it comes to the supply of critical semiconductors,” Cornyn said.
Samsung’s Kim thanked the Biden administration for “creating an environment that supports companies like Samsung as we work to expand leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing in the US“
“We also thank the administration and Congress for their bipartisan support to swiftly enact federal incentives for domestic chip production and innovation.”
Samsung has not specified what the new plant will make beyond advanced logic chips which can be used to power mobile devices and autonomous vehicles.
Analysts said it would likely make cutting-edge chips of 5-nanometers or less, using machines made by the Netherland’s ASML, for large clients like Qualcomm. Such chips can handle more data per area than the 14- and 28-nanometer chips Samsung’s existing US plant in Austin mainly makes.
The Taylor site, about 25 miles (40 kms) from Austin, spans more than 5 million square meters, Samsung said.
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee met White House officials as well as leaders of companies including Alphabet’s Google, Amazon and Microsoft during a trip to the United States last week.


Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022

Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022
Updated 05 December 2021

Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022

Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022

CAIRO: Egypt will launch its first fleet of buses powered by natural gas next year, Minister of Public Enterprise Hisham Tawfik has said.

About 70 percent of the components used in the manufacturing of the buses will be sourced locally, in cooperation with several Egyptian companies, he said.

Tawfiq said that the fleet will include buses that can accommodate 14 to 50 passengers, and that the goal of the project is to localize technology and transport production.

“Our strategy is to work in the production of environmentally friendly vehicles, whether they run on natural gas or electricity,” he added.

A delegation from the Belarusian Minsk Automobile Plant signed a contract to supply production materials for the project.

Production is expected to begin in mid-2022, with a target of 250 buses completed per year.

Tawfiq welcomed cooperation with the Belarusian side, especially in light of the distinguished relations between the two countries, which have developed significantly in recent years.


PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering

PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering
Updated 05 December 2021

PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering

PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (selling shareholder) and stc on Sunday announced the launch of a secondary public offering of stc’s ordinary shares, Argaam reported.

“The potential transaction is in line with the PIF’s strategy to recycle its capital to new investments,” the fund said in an earlier statement. 

A total of 10.02 million shares will be allocated to retail subscribers.

The offering comprises a fully marketed secondary public offering of 100.2 million stc shares, representing 5.01 percent of its share capital

The price range has been set between SR100 and SR116 per share. The final offer price will announced on Dec. 10.

Goldman Sachs Saudi Arabia, HSBC Saudi Arabia, Morgan Stanley Saudi Arabia and SNB Capital are acting as joint financial advisers for STC and joint global coordinators for STC and PIF. The Citigroup Saudi Arabia and Credit Suisse Saudi Arabia are acting as joint bookrunners, according to a bourse filing.


Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap

Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap
Updated 05 December 2021

Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap

Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency, plunged around 30 percent from the year’s high of $69,000 on Nov. 10.

It, however, traded higher on Sunday, rising by 2.82 percent to $48,972 at 5:14 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most popular cryptocurrency, traded at $4,140 up 4.16 percent, according to data from CoinDesk.

“Corrections and declines do occur in almost all markets including crypto. The current decline is considered the largest in terms of market value since the late March 2020 decline,” Abdullah Mashat, managing director of a private Saudi retail company told Arab News.

Mashat said: “Current decline is due to investors being concerned of tapering talks in the US, which resulted in the decline in stock exchanges and later this caused liquidity crunch in the crypto markets."

Anto Paroian, COO at crypto hedge fund ARK36 said: “The market sentiments  have decisively soured as a result of deepening concerns about omicron variant and its (likely) effect on the economy. The current situation resembles closely what happened in March 2020 as we’re seeing equities plunge 5 percent off recent highs and the negativity is spreading to other markets as well including the digital asset markets. 

“On the other hand, the current price levels aren’t unexpected after the bulls failed to flip the $60,000 resistance multiple times in the past few weeks. During previous Bitcoin bull markets violent swings of 20-30 percent happened a few times before the market topped and let’s remember what happened in July - and how well the market rebounded afterward."

 "It must be noted, though, that one of the key Bitcoin bull market indicators — the 20-week simple moving average — has now been decisively breached so the outlook is currently bearish in the short to medium term. What’s more, since there are widespread expectations that interest rates will rise as central banks are signaling a more aggressive stance on inflation, the violent price move in the digital asset market may also suggest that some investors are preparing to go into a risk-off mode for the time being," Paroian added.

Meanwhile, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said the Central American country had acquired an additional 150 bitcoins after the digital currency’s value slumped again, enlarging his bet on the cryptocurrency despite criticism.

Bukele said last week that El Salvador had acquired 100 additional coins to take advantage of the currency weakening.


Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line

Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line
Updated 05 December 2021

Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line

Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco on Sunday announced its entry into the Kingdom’s domestic lubricants market with the launch of a new line of products.

The oil giant timed the ORIZON® launch to coincide with the inaugural Saudi Arabian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Jeddah.

The product line has been introduced in more than 20 cities including Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam with more locations planned. The products include synthetic and semisynthetic lubricants for gasoline engines and heavy-duty diesel engines, as well as driveline products, greases and brake fluids. 

The company has also expanded the brand to include ORIZONPRO® which is a high-performance line for the industrial sector.

Yasser M. Mufti, Aramco vice president of fuels, said: “Entering the lubricants market is an important milestone for the company, as we continue to expand our presence throughout the downstream value chain.” 

The launch “further complements Aramco’s presence in the Kingdom’s downstream direct-to-consumer segment, following the inauguration of our first two service stations in Riyadh and Saihat recently.”


Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap

Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap
Updated 05 December 2021

Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap

Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap

CAIRO: The Australian government is expected to raise its economic growth forecast for 2022 in its midyear budget review, according to the country’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.

He said omicron’s effect, the new COVID-19 variant, is still unclear.

The country’s fiscal year runs until June.

The Australian economy narrowed by 1.9 percent in the third quarter of this year on the back of the delta variant which led to a national lockdown.

However, the treasurer said the country now enjoys one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, boosting market conditions.

France avoids more restrictions

France will try to refrain from the imposition of any health-related restrictions even as virus cases continue to rise, the country’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

France is also avoiding any mandatory vaccination campaigns, Bloomberg reported, citing the minister.

He said two sectors, restaurants and hospitality, were particularly hit by the wave of new cases, adding that they will receive government support.

He also stated the new variant, omicron, is yet to have an effect on the country’s economic growth.

US growth rate

Unlike other countries, US expected growth rates for both 2021 and next year were trimmed down by Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s leading investment banks. 

It said this downward revision was attributed to a potential adverse effect by omicron, according to Bloomberg.

The world’s largest economy is now predicted to grow by 3.8 percent in 2021, instead of the previous 4.2 percent forecast. As for next year, the US is set to expand by 2.9 percent, down from 3.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the country’s unemployment rate plunged to a 21-month low to hit 4.2 percent in November, according to the Labor Department. This is a 2.1 percent drop compared to January’s level, a considerable decline.

However, employment growth slowed down during the month.

The economy is still expected to experience strong growth in the fourth quarter, following the previous quarter’s weak performance.