Dutch government allocates EUR 2.5 billion to keep ASML in motherland

Ollie Chang, Taipei; Samuel Howarth, DIGITIMES Asia 0


ASML's future may be decided by Beethoven.

According to reports, the Dutch government is trying to convince the homegrown semiconductor giants ASML and NXP to remain in the country. The news follows reports that ASML threatened to leave.

The Hague plans to allocate over EUR2.5 billion to invest in the Brainport region of Eindhoven, the location of ASML's headquarters. The Dutch government's plan is codenamed Project Beethoven.

Dutch media NOS and Bits&Chips quoted sources saying to win the favor of these semiconductor companies, the Dutch cabinet has promised to invest EUR9 million in educational institutions in the Brainport region. The money will mainly target universities but will include other technical institutions, sources added.

This investment aims to improve local infrastructure, and housing, and expand Eindhoven University of Technology. The Dutch government also proposed canceling the government's contentious plans to tax stock buybacks.

ASML's threat to leave relates to fears over the effects that the Netherlands' increasingly tough immigration policy will have on the company's operations. 40% of ASML's workforce in Holand are not Dutch, the Guardian reported.

Speaking with Dutch broadcaster RTL in January, the company's CEO Peter Peter Wennink said "Ultimately, we can only grow this company if there are enough qualified people. "We prefer to do that here, but if we cannot get those people here, we will get those people in Eastern Europe or in Asia or in the United States," he added.

Reuters reported that Dutch Trade Minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen told the Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad that ASML is an important Dutch company. Defending its interests is a top priority, he added.

It is reported that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will visit China on March 26-27 and meet President Xi Jinping. ASML equipment exports and related policies are becoming a focal point of discussions.

Most of ASML's export licenses to China are set to expire by the end of 2024. It is still unknown whether the Dutch government will approve the sale of billions of euros worth of advanced equipment to China.

If the Hague decides against the sale, Chinese chip manufacturers may turn to Japanese equipment suppliers such as Nikon and Canon. They could also attempt to work with Shanghai Microelectronics to replace ASML equipment.