Chinese chipmaker SMIC buys $1.2bln in tools from ASML

In December, SMIC was one of dozens of firms put on a U.S. blacklist

  
ASML's logo is seen on the day of the presentation of the 2011 fourth quarter and annual results in Veldhoven January 18, 2012. Increased demand for smartphones and tablet computers like iPads is driving strong sales at ASML, the world's biggest chip equipment maker said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Robin van Lonkhuijsen/United Photos

ASML's logo is seen on the day of the presentation of the 2011 fourth quarter and annual results in Veldhoven January 18, 2012. Increased demand for smartphones and tablet computers like iPads is driving strong sales at ASML, the world's biggest chip equipment maker said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Robin van Lonkhuijsen/United Photos

REUTERS/Robin van Lonkhuijsen/United Photos

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp, China's largest chipmaker, has agreed to buy $1.2 billion in manufacturing tools from ASML Holding NV, according to a regulatory filing on Wednesday.

In December, SMIC was one of dozens of firms put on a U.S. blacklist that required American semiconductor manufacturing equipment firms such as Applied Materials Inc and Lam Research Corp to obtain a license before exporting products to the chipmaker.

The U.S. Commerce Department said the action against SMIC stemmed from China's efforts to harness civilian technologies for military purposes and evidence of activities between SMIC and Chinese military industrial companies of concern. The rules would still allow the shipment of tools for making less advanced chips. 

ASML, which is based in the Netherlands and is the world's largest supplier of lithography equipment for making chips, produces a critical tool required to manufacture advanced chips - an extreme ultraviolet lithography, or EUV, machine.

In 2019, the Trump administration pressed Dutch official to cancel a sale of an EUV machine to SMIC. At that time, Dutch officials declined to renew a license needed to ship the tool.

ASML, which also makes tools for less advanced chips, did not immediately return a request for comment on which tools were included in the most recent sale.

On Monday, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, or NSCAI, recommended that the United States coordinate with the Netherlands and Japan to deny export licenses to China for key chipmaking equipment. 

"This (sale) is a slap in the face to the NSCAI recommendations and shows how big the gap with allies is on these issue," a U.S. semiconductor executive said on condition of anonymity.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco Editing by Paul Simao) ((Stephen.Nellis@thomsonreuters.com; (415) 344-4934;))

More From Technology