Fab in Brum

Fab in Brum
John Prescott gives green light to wafer fab in Birmingham; Philips Semiconductors has not confirmed it will choose the site; Philips also considering sites in northern England. David Manners. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has given the go-ahead for Birmingham’s first-ever wafer fab. Philips Semiconductors is now deciding whether it still wants the site. When Philips showed interest early last year in building a billion dollar wafer fab on a green field site in Birmingham’s green belt area, the West Midlands Development Agency applied for planning permission. Local objections, led by the area’s MP Sir Norman Fowler, produced a Public Enquiry. The final decision went all the way to the Secretary of State for the Environment and Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, before getting approval late last month. Now it is up to Philips whether to go ahead with its plans or not. Making the decision at Philips will be Stuart McIntosh, chief operating officer. “When I got back from vacation last week I saw that the Public Enquiry into the site was published and there was renewed speculation about who would go onto the site. We never confirmed that we would use that site. It was one of several sites we looked at,” McIntosh told EW. It is thought Philips is also considering sites in northern England like Durham and Washington where it already has factories. “We have to decide whether to go to an existing site or a greenfield site,” said McIntosh. However, Philips is also considering a joint venture. “When you think of the scale of fabs today, for those people who are not in memories, it makes a lot of sense to work with partners to share the risk of filling a fab,” said McIntosh. Likely partners are Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) in which Philips has a 30 per cent stake, IBM with whom Philips has a joint venture fab in Sindelfingen, Germany called Sub-Micron Technology, and SGS-Thomson Microelectronics with whom Philips shares a fab.


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