Resonac Holdings CEO eyes JSR Stake amidst Japan’s chip material sector consolidation

Resonac is already a key player in the chip materials sector, supplying materials such as silicon wafer-polishing slurry and etching gas to chipmakers like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Infineon Technologies, and Rohm.

The CEO of Resonac Holdings, Hidehito Takahashi, is contemplating a move to acquire a stake in JSR, a linchpin in Japan’s fragmented chip materials sector. This comes on the heels of Japan Investment’s $6 billion buyout of JSR, the world’s largest producer of photoresists. Takahashi sees the upcoming change in JSR’s ownership as an opportunity for Resonac to play an active role in the company’s future.

Takahashi, who orchestrated Showa Denko’s acquisition of the larger Hitachi Chemical in 2020 to form Resonac, believes his company is the most logical partner for JSR. While acknowledging the potential expense, he expressed the desire to get involved in JSR’s future. Resonac is already a key player in the chip materials sector, supplying materials such as silicon wafer-polishing slurry and etching gas to chipmakers like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Infineon Technologies, and Rohm.

The chip materials sector in Japan is marked by numerous companies specializing in key materials like photoresists and mask blanks essential for semiconductor manufacturing. However, increasing development costs and the demand for higher semiconductor performance are driving the need for consolidation to enhance competitiveness against global rivals.

Takahashi sees semiconductor materials as an area where Japan can maintain a global edge, emphasizing the need to move away from a fragmented industry. He envisions creating a chip materials company with annual revenue exceeding ¥1 trillion and an EBITDA margin of 20% or more, aiming to compete on the same level as global giants like 3M and DuPont de Nemours.

Resonac, under Takahashi’s leadership, is not solely focused on being the primary driver of consolidation. He emphasizes the industry’s ideal pursuit and aims to contribute to industry consolidation, even if it means stepping down from the CEO role. The company is actively seeking ways to offload non-semiconductor units, such as its petrochemical materials business, as it realigns its operations to focus more on the semiconductor sector.

The chip materials business at Resonac is expected to achieve a profit on par with its 2022 performance, a year that saw record sales of ¥427 billion. Takahashi notes that the growing use of artificial intelligence is boosting demand for more complex semiconductors, benefiting Resonac as a key supplier of materials for next-generation chips.