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UK Won’t Get Chip Plant, Brexit to Blame, Says Intel CEO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger signals to the crowd from earth-moving equipment in Chandler, Arizona, on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021
(Image credit: Intel)

Intel boss Pat Gelsinger has announced in an interview with the BBC that a potential new chip fab will no longer be built in Britain citing Brexit as the reason for the decision. Instead it looks as though a European country will host Intel's fab.

The Intel mask operation in Santa Clara, builds templates to print circuitry on silicon wafers

(Image credit: Intel/Tim Herman)

Before the United Kingdom made its decision to exit the European Union by a tiny margin in a 2016 referendum, it "would have been a site that we would have considered,”  according to Gelsinger. “Post-Brexit,” he added, “we now have about 70 proposals for sites across Europe from maybe 10 different countries. We're hopeful that we'll get to agreement on a site, as well as support from the EU... before the end of this year."

Intel’s interest in building a new plant has only strengthened following the worldwide chip shortage that has seen prices pushed up for products such as GPUs and processors used in new cars. The US firm hopes to invest $95bn (£70bn) on new and upgraded chip plants in Europe over the next ten years. "Just everything is short right now. And even as I and my peers in the industry are working like crazy to catch up, it's going to be a while," Gelsinger said.

That spending matches that of Intel’s rivals in the chip-fabrication market, with Taiwan-based TSMC, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of microchips, spending $100bn over three years, and Samsung putting $205bn into its own semiconductor plants. Intel currently outsources some of its chip manufacturing, but hopes to take it in-house with the development of new plants.

"It is clearly part of the motivation of a globally balanced supply chain that nobody should be too dependent on somebody else," Gelsinger told the BBC.

  • Yuka
    I'll go on a limb and say Spain or Portugal are their best candidates given geo-location and economy. Spain being the dodgy one here. Italy could also be another good candidate, I guess.

    I know one thing for sure: it won't be Germany, lol.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • sepuko
    Yuka said:
    I'll go on a limb and say Spain or Portugal are their best candidates given geo-location and economy. Spain being the dodgy one here. Italy could also be another good candidate, I guess.

    I know one thing for sure: it won't be Germany, lol.

    Regards.
    How about an educated local workforce and know-how? I think Germany is the most likely candidate. As for geolocation, Bulgaria is quite well positioned too(still in EU but also close to Asia, Middle East and Africa) but there's no way in hell enough people can be found locally and no way in hell would there be enough educated people willing to relocate there. Same for Spain and especially Portugal.
    Reply
  • Endymio
    sepuko said:
    How about an educated local workforce and know-how? I think Germany is the most likely candidate. As for geolocation, Bulgaria is quite well positioned too...
    Either is more likely than Spain, I agree, especially given the workforce issues and anti-business environment there. I'd also think Intel would be looking heavily at Poland.
    Reply
  • wr3zzz
    I will be shocked if Intel is not expanding in Ireland. The compnay is just talking to get more government concessions.
    Reply
  • lazyabum
    That's what the UK gets for becoming isolationist.
    Reply
  • daworstplaya
    lazyabum said:
    That's what the UK gets for becoming isolationist.

    ^This 100% .... as the saying goes, you reap what you sow.
    Reply
  • Yuka
    sepuko said:
    How about an educated local workforce and know-how? I think Germany is the most likely candidate. As for geolocation, Bulgaria is quite well positioned too(still in EU but also close to Asia, Middle East and Africa) but there's no way in hell enough people can be found locally and no way in hell would there be enough educated people willing to relocate there. Same for Spain and especially Portugal.
    The "local know-how" is a minor consideration. Political/economical stability, war/conflicts prospects and geo-position are the most important ones they consider. Even more so than price. Moving people around the globe now is way easier than it was 40 years ago and, given the running cost of such factories, it's really a non-starter to even consider that. Knowledge, and to a bigger degree, "smart people", you can find anywhere these days. I say that as someone that has moved around the globe because of those reasons.

    That being said, shareholders and influential people at the higher end of corps are still humans and humans are weird creatures :P

    Regards.
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    MMorris666 said:
    Not even a month a go the news come out of UK being the fastest growing economy in the G20.
    On the basis of a single quarter, sure. If you look at the previous quarter, UK was 2nd last. If you look at growth since Q4 2019 (i.e. the period since brexit occurred), UK is also 2nd last.

    But all of that is probably a measure of how the country is managing with COVID, as much or more than it is a measure of the economy as a whole. Who knows how well the trends over the last year and a half will hold going forward.
    Reply
  • Chung Leong
    Endymio said:
    Either is more likely than Spain, I agree, especially given the workforce issues and anti-business environment there. I'd also think Intel would be looking heavily at Poland.

    Intel is looking for state aid to build the fab. The Polish government has neither the money nor the political clout to funnel it through some EU institution to make it legit. Germany will get the project in the end.
    Reply
  • mossberg
    lazyabum said:
    That's what the UK gets for becoming isolationist.

    Wanting to keep your sovereignty is not isolationist. UK didn't want to have the EU bureaucrats controlling their lives. This decision is political, and not for business reasons.
    Reply