Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. chairman and founder Morris Chang will retire in June next year, handing the helm of the world’s largest producer of made-to-order microchips to the company’s two co-chief executives.
Breaking with tradition, Chang used his retirement
announcement to issue a 2017 revenue forecast that surpassed analysts’ estimates. TSMC’s sales growth should be close to 10 percent this year in US dollar terms, he said, a pace that surpasses the roughly 4 percent projected. Mark Liu will succeed the 86-year-old Chang as chairman, and will have the final say in all business decisions and strategic direction. C.C. Wei will become chief executive officer, orchestrating operations but taking his cues from the board, Chang told.
The announcement confirmed longstanding speculation about the heirs-apparent and establishes a formal succession at the manufacturer of chips for Qualcomm Inc. and Apple Inc.—its largest customer. Chang—who stepped down as CEO in 2013 after the board installed Liu and Wei as his lieutenants—left little doubt he plans to step completely away from the corporation he founded in 1987.
“I came to my decision to retire gradually. Of course it had something to do with my age,” Chang said, emphasizing he will no longer hold any positions at the company come June.
“As for when, I made that
decision at the beginning of
Liu and Wei will inherit a company that in three decades established itself as the world’s pre-eminent foundry or contract chipmaker, about 30 times larger than local rival United Microelectronics Corp. It spends billions on constant upgrades and new production facilities to keep pace with rivals like Intel Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. in using the most advanced processing technologies.
Chang said that TSMC expects annual US dollar revenue growth of 5 to 10 percent in the next few years.
Its shares have surged 21 percent this year thanks to projected demand for Apple’s new iPhones and other products. That helped make Chang a billionaire this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He owned 0.48 percent of the business directly as of Aug. 31, according to a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange. Its shares rose 1.9 percent in Taipei before his retirement was announced.
Chang, one of the chip industry’s most respected figures, spent most of his life in semiconductors. Born in 1931 in the coastal Chinese city of Ningbo, his earliest memories were of moving through a succession of cities as his family fled before the Japanese occupation and, later, civil war between the Communists and Nationalists.