Chip maker ASM warns about “unpredictable” government policy


Dutch chip machine maker ASMI is to invest some €300 million in expanding its activities in Scottsdale, Arizona, including building a new state-of-the-art research department.

The company already has 800 staff in the region and this will shortly be expanded to 1,300, the company said. ASM, which has dropped the I from its name, is part of a Dutch semi-conductor trade mission to the US led by prime minister Mark Rutte and economic affairs Micky Adriaansens. 

The company’s financial chief Paul Verhagen told the Financieele Dagblad in an interview that an expansion of ASM’s European operations is also on the cards, although a final decision still has to be taken. 

The Netherlands is on the list of possible locations but, Verhagen said, he is concerned about unpredictable government policy.

“On the one hand, the Netherlands still has attractive conditions,” he said. “Think about the tax break on research costs. But government policy has become more unpredictable and that makes things complicated if you are looking to make long term decisions.”

The tax on share buy-backs and the plan to cut the 30% ruling paid to some highly-skilled foreign workers is an issue, he said. “It is very important that we can attract expertise, because we just don’t have the number of engineers we need in the Netherlands.” 

The four parties currently in talks on forming a new government all want to reduce the number of people moving to the Netherlands to work, and parliament earlier voted in favour of cutting the provisions in the 30% ruling. 

Board chairman Benjamin Loh told the Telegraaf that the company would monitor developments in the Netherlands closely.  “Hopefully the investment climate will remain good,” he said, adding that the ASM aimed to decide on a location within six months. 

ASM is the third biggest Dutch chip sector firm, after one-time subsidiary ASML and NXP. The company has some 4,500 workers worldwide, of whom 200 are in the Netherlands. 

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