Chinese chip makers are forecast to spend $11.0 billion in capex this year, up from only $2.2 billion in 2015. European and Japanese chip makers also intend to increase capital expenditure; from $9.5 billion in aggregate to $10.7 billion.

China’s $11.0 billion spend would represent 10.6 percent of expected global semiconductor capex of $103.5 billion in 2018. It is notable that Europe’s three largest chip companies; Infineon Technologies, NXP Semiconductor and STMicroelectronics all exited from manufacturing leading-edge digital and adopted fab- and capital-light business models.

The three companies will only be responsible for 4 percent of global semiconductor capital expenditure in 2018 down from 8 percent in 2005, IC Insights said. It forecasts that will diminish to 3 percent by 2022.

Japanese companies such as Renesas, Sony have also transitioned to fab-lite business models. Japanese companies are forecast to represent 6 percent of total semiconductor industry capital expenditures in 2018, down from the 22 percent share they held in 2005 and from the 51 percent share they held in 1990.

China’s pure-play foundry SMIC has been major capex spender for a number of years but there are four additional Chinese companies that are forecast to become significant semiconductor industry spenders this year and next – memory suppliers XMC/YMTC, Innotron, JHICC, and pure-play foundry Shanghai Huali. Each of these companies is expected to spend a considerable amount of money equipping and ramping up their new fabs in 2018 and 2019.

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