China’s Chip Ambitions Fade as Chip Giant Faces Bankruptcy

Tsinghua Unigroup, a Chinese state-backed chip maker, said that it received court notice that one of its creditors had initiated bankruptcy proceedings for the group, The Epoch Times reported. Tsinghua Unigroup is a commercial arm of China’s Tsinghua University and an integral part of Chinese Leader Xi Jinping’s semiconductor self-reliance dream. One of its creditors had requested the court to initiate bankruptcy and reorganization proceedings due to Tsinghua Unigroup’s failure to repay debts and its glaring insolvency. The company is a key member of China’s microchip national team. According to a Unigroup filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the creditor who requested the court proceedings was Huishang Bank Corporation Limited, a Hong Kong-listed bank based in Anhui, China. On Nov. 16, 2020, Tsinghua Unigroup defaulted on $198 million in bonds, resulting in a credit downgrade. And at least six more of its bonds had defaulted by June of this year, the group disclosed. Tsinghua Unigroup is a semiconductor conglomerate under Tsinghua Holdings Co., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tsinghua University. It was founded in 1988. Tsinghua Holdings owns 51 percent of Tsinghua Unigroup, and its Chairman Zhao Weiguo’s management firm holds the remaining 49 percent. With the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) support, Tsinghua Unigroup began acquiring and merging semiconductor-related technology companies in 2013. It has formed a large semiconductor conglomerate, one of China’s largest, with 286 consolidated subsidiaries in just a few years and accumulated nearly $46.4 billion in assets. Although backed by the CCP and Tsinghua University, Tsinghua Unigroup’s subsidiary companies didn’t utilize the university’s technological capabilities for research and development. Instead, they focused on acquiring technology companies. Read more.

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