by Barnett Silver, SVP and principal, ATREG
October 13, 2011 – SEMICON Europa got off to a strong start on Monday (10/11) and continued in full swing on Tuesday (10/12). Occupying most of the Messe Dresden, the show has dozens of exhibitors and hundreds of attendees. Some of the most prominent exhibitors on the floor are large firms such as DB Schenker and AMAT, as well as the regional economic agencies. Silicon Saxony is strategically located near the hall entrance with a huge exhibit. New York also has a large presence. The German research institute Fraunhofer also has a large booth highlighting its many interrelated activities in the semiconductor industry.
The overall mood on the show floor is optimistic, yet cautious — not the abysmal gloom of the SEMICON shows in late 2008 and early 2009. While many firms acknowledge that the industry is in the midst of a correction, most people think or hope it will be mild, and see the industry back on a strong growth track by mid-2012.
Today, the exhibition space is full and crowds are robust. However, in discussions with several tool brokers and resellers, there is a definite consensus that demand for 200mm tools is slowing down. Having said that, that view is not entirely universal and some still see continued solid demand for equipment. Slowdown or not, the opportunity to acquire semiconductor assets on the cheap continues to prove irresistible.
The sessions held at the conference run on a diverse set of mostly technical topics. The program on 450mm wafer production was particularly well attended by many participants who seem to want to understand more about it out of curiosity rather than a need inside their organization to start developing the technology. The consensus view is that only a handful of companies such as Intel, Samsung, or TSMC can possibly afford to develop 450mm production. MEMS is another key focus of the show, with many participants interested in this growing sub-segment of the semiconductor business.
Overall, SEMICON Europa 2011 is a well-attended and vibrant conference, illustrating the continued importance of the semiconductor industry to Europe.
Barnett Silver is SVP and principal of ATREG Inc., a Seattle-based advisory firm to the global semiconductor industry providing objective market analysis, strategic advice, and transaction execution expertise for the disposition and acquisition of operational assets. His background includes mortgage banking and investment banking/debt capital markets. For more information, visit www.atreg.com.