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Solar wafer maker to raise employee wages

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Sino-American Silicon Products Inc., one of Taiwan's leading solar-grade crystalline silicon wafer suppliers, has decided to give its employees a pay raise of 3-5 percent this year.

Sino-American made the announcement at its year-end dinner Friday, saying that as the company posted an almost 20 percent increase in consolidated sales last year, its employees deserve the wage hike.

In 2013, the company posted about NT$22.2 billion in consolidated sales, up 17 percent from a year earlier.

M.K. Lu, chairman of Sino-American, said the global solar energy business has hit a turning point and he expects its company's core solar energy business to grow in 2014.

On the back of rising global demand, prices of crystalline silicon wafers have recovered to about US$1.07 this month from US$0.92-0.93 quoted for the second half of last year, market analysts said.

They said it seems that the solar energy industry has climbed out of the doldrums seen in the past two years.

In the first nine months of last year, Sino-American posted NT$0.71 in earnings per share, compared with NT$2.37 in loss per share recorded over the same period of 2012. However, its core solar energy business still incurred losses.

In addition to silicon wafer production, Sino-American currently operates semiconductor and sapphire-manufacturing businesses.

Sino-American said its subsidiary, GlobalWafers Co., which is a supplier of 3- to 12-inch semiconductor wafers, is riding a wave of growth and will continue to develop value-added products to boost its competitive edge.

In the nine month period, GlobalWafers enjoyed a more-than 10 percent year-on-year increase in revenue totaling NT$15.5 billion, accounting for almost 70 percent of Sino-American's total sales.

The subsidiary is expanding production capacity, with a new 8-inch production line scheduled to be completed soon.

Also holding an upbeat mood about the solar energy business, Gigastorage Corp., another solar wafer supplier in Taiwan, said prices of crystalline silicon wafers could rise to US$1.2 in the second quarter.

Analysts said it is possible for Gigastorage to turn a profit in the first quarter. In the first nine months of last year, it incurred NT$1.09 in loss per share.

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