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TSMC affiliate to invest in U.S. solar-cell firm

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) said yesterday that affiliate VentureTech Alliance will buy a 21-percent stake in U.S.-based solar cell firm Stion Corp. in the latest efforts by TSMC to expand into the solar sector.

The consideration of the transaction will total US$50 million, TSMC said in a statement filed to the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

TSMC, the world's largest contract chipmaker, has also agreed with Stion, which specializes in manufacturing high efficiency thin-film solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, on solar cell technology licensing and joint development, according to the statement.

Under the agreements, the U.S. partner will license and transfer its thin-film technology to TSMC. In return, TSMC will provide a certain quantity of solar modules to Stion using the technology, the statement said.

“Working with Stion, TSMC gains a robust thin-film technology with inherent low cost structure,” Rick Tsai, president of TSMC's new businesses division, said in the statement.

“With TSMC's research and development capabilities and manufacturing expertise, we believe we can achieve long-term overall leadership in solar PV solutions,” Tsai said.

TSMC is one of many Taiwanese high-tech companies that are eager to diversify by entering the green energy sector in an attempt to cushion the possible impact in the event of a foundry business slowdown.

Last year, TSMC announced plans to acquire a 20 percent stake in Taiwan's Motech Industries, a solar cell producer, and has also invested in the light-emitting diode (LED) sector through a venture capital.

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