SK Group pledges $22b for US chip, battery manufacturing

Plus Kioxia, WD snag a $680 million cash infusion from Japan

South Korean conglomerate SK Group signaled this week it will splurge $22 billion on semiconductor manufacturing, green energy, and bioscience research in the US.

The NAND and DRAM power house said $15 billion of the spending will be directed toward semiconductor manufacturing in the form of research and development and the creation of an advanced packaging facility. Meanwhile, $5 billion will be directed toward electric vehicle charging systems, hydrogen production, and battery tech.

The news comes as the US Senate nears a vote on the CHIPS Act which would designate more than $52 billion to accelerate domestic semiconductor manufacturing efforts. The necessary legislation to unlock the super-subsidies, which chipmakers say they need to build fabs on US soil, has been stuck in grid-lock for months as the House of Reps and Senate have gone back and forth on the contents of the bill.

Intel, which has moved ahead with a massive foundry expansion in Arizona and Ohio, and its fellow wafer bakers have repeatedly called on Congress to get its act together and pass the bill so that they can get their hands on the dosh.

The x86 giant is thus not the only chipmaker looking to cash in on the CHIPS Act. Last week, Samsung lodged an 11th hour proposal to build 11 semiconductor fabs in and around Austin, Texas over the next two decades. The project has an estimated price tag of $200 billion.

That said, Samsung hasn’t actually committed to building anything beyond a $17 billion fab project, 25 miles north of Austin in the community of Taylor.

SK Group’s investment promises, meanwhile, are the latest installment in the company’s plan to spend $52 billion in the US by 2030. It follows a joint partnership, announced early last year, with Ford to develop battery packs for electric vehicles at a pair of battery plants destined for Kentucky. The project would also see Ford open a “mega campus” in Tennessee.

Ford and SK Innovation — a subsidiary of SK Group — say the $11.4 billion project will create approximately 11,000 new jobs between the facilities when they open in 2025.

But as chipmakers await a final vote on the CHIPS Act, on the other side of the world, Japan has already opened its wallet to the tune of $680 million to give storage vendors Kioxia and Western Digital a helping hand, Reuters reports.

The deal is apparently part of an ongoing effort to revive chip production in the region, and stabilize semiconductor supply chains, which have forced automakers to shutter plants on more than one occasion. ®

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