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Samsung, SK hynix withhold key data in US request for chip biz info

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Seoul, Nov 9 (IANS) Samsung Electronics and SK hynix on Tuesday submitted information on their chip businesses to the US but withheld some key data considered trade secrets in an apparent delicate balancing act.

The two South Korean chipmakers made the filings about two months after the US Department of Commerce requested data on the ongoing chip crisis that has hobbled global automakers and other electronic product manufacturers.

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Washington had asked major chipmakers to “voluntarily” share business information by November 8 to address the issue, following President Joe Biden’s executive order that directed “several federal agency actions to secure and strengthen America’s supply chains” for key products.

“After discussing with the Commerce Department, we did not submit customer information because contract terms do not allow us to disclose it,” Samsung said.

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SK hynix also said they closely consulted with the department and shared information “in a way that we can protect the trust relationship with our customers”.

The comments by Samsung and SK hynix were not made immediately available for public viewing on the US government website on federal decision making as of Tuesday morning, reports Yonhap news agency.

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The two companies said they minimized the submission of sensitive information on customers, sales and inventory details.

Israel’s foundry firm Tower Semiconductor also refrained from disclosing some data, such as backlog specifics, product attributes and past month sales, citing “non-disclosure agreements with our customers”.

The US information request had spawned concerns about the possible leak of what chipmakers consider major trade secrets, as questions touch upon a wide range of issues, including investment, inventories, pricing, capacity expansion plans, customers and sales.

It also had raised questions on how to answer those sensitive questions while complying with filings and information disclosure rules required for publicly traded companies.

While the US government said the information sharing is “voluntary”, South Korean companies were under pressure to file the information as requested.

–IANS

wh/ksk/

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