Tsinghua Unigroup unveils plan for Southeast Asia expansion

September 6, 2023 6:10 pm

On Wednesday, Tsinghua Unigroup, the state-owned semiconductor conglomerate of China, unveiled plans to intensify its global expansion efforts, with a particular focus on Southeast Asia.

The company’s CEO Li Bin, speaking at a forum in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, during a regional summit, revealed that Tsinghua Unigroup currently manages three factories situated in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. The company's strategic goal is to bolster its manufacturing and research and development (R&D) capabilities within the Southeast Asian region.

Li also mentioned that Tsinghua Unigroup is contemplating the establishment of an investment platform to provide funding for projects in the Southeast Asian region. He further encouraged Southeast Asian investment institutions to participate in this platform.

Launched in 1988 by China’s top university Tsinghua University, Unigroup was initially known as Tsinghua University Sci-Tech General Company and renamed in 1993.

Tsinghua Unigroup has undergone significant expansion in recent years, primarily through acquisitions. Its portfolio of companies spans various segments of the semiconductor supply chain. Key entities within this portfolio include UNISOC Communications Co, a mobile chip designer, and Yangtze Memory Technologies, which is China's foremost and largest manufacturer of NAND flash memory.

However, the expansion strategy centered around acquisitions resulted in substantial debt accumulation for Tsinghua Unigroup, ultimately leading to bankruptcy and necessitating a comprehensive restructuring effort.

The company, which has 286 subsidiaries on its book, fell into debt trouble in 2020 when it cannot repay the principal of its bond.

In December, 2020, Tsinghua Unigroup defaulted on USD450 million Eurobond as it missed the deadline to repay the principal.

In 2022, two state-owned enterprises assumed control of the financially burdened semiconductor group, taking over its substantial debt. Li Bin was appointed as chairman in July of the previous year, as part of the takeover initiative that infused the struggling company with fresh ownership and much-needed capital.