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Taiwan body to reopen DRAM asset tender after failed auction

By Jeanny Kao

TAIPEI (Reuters) - A tender for Taiwanese chip maker ProMOS Technologies Inc's idled fabrication plant will be reopened next month after the deadline for an initial sale attempt passed without bids, a semi-government body said, as interest from foreign firms raised hopes a deal could be done.

The tender for the 12-inch wafer fab at ProMOS, which like Taiwan's other small producers of DRAM memory chips has been hit hard by falling prices and high capital spending costs, received no bid documents by Thursday's deadline, the Taiwan Financial Asset Service Corp (TFASC) said.

The semi-governmental body, which was in charge of the auction on behalf of the creditors, said the T$19.5 billion ($660 million) base price for the assets will not be changed when the tender reopens on December 12.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, United Microelectronics Corp and Global Foundries, owned by an Abu Dhabi state fund, had been interested in buying the assets, sources close to the situation have said.

The creditors are hoping that, when the bid reopens in two weeks, two foreign companies that had visited the 12-inch wafer plant will have had sufficient time to prepare bidding documents, Lu Dong-ying, who was speaking on behalf of creditors, told reporters on Thursday. Lu declined to name the two companies.

ProMOS, which delisted its shares from the Taipei stock exchange in March, has $1.9 billion in debt and halted production last year.

Many producers of DRAM chips, a market dominated globally by South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and SK Hynix Inc, are struggling as falling prices and huge investments to stay competitive saddle them with massive losses.

Demand for personal computers, the primary user of DRAM chips, has also been hammered as consumers switch to smartphones and tablets.

Several DRAM producers have been forced to seek financial help or tie-ups that would boost scale, or have moved into higher-value semiconductors.

The chief executive of Micron Technology Inc, which is losing money, said he expected to complete the acquisition of failed Japanese memory chipmaker Elpida Memory Inc in the first half of next year.

(Writing by Faith Hung; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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