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Davos updates | Intel CEO says chip shortage risks expansion

The head of chipmaker Intel says a shortage of advanced equipment to make semiconductors could hold up global expansion plans

DAVOS, Switzerland — The head of chipmaker Intel says a shortage of advanced equipment to make semiconductors could hold up global expansion plans.

CEO Pat Gelsinger said Monday that there have been “quite significant extensions” in delivery times for chipmaking gear for new chip factories, known as “fabs,” that the company plans to build in the U.S. and Europe.

Gelsinger said at a press roundtable on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum that “to us, this is now the No. 1 issue, is in fact the delivery of equipment.”

A handful of suppliers make high-tech semiconductor manufacturing gear, such as Dutch company ASML. A shortage of semiconductors that erupted last year hurt the availability of everything from autos to kitchen appliances and highlighted the industry’s vulnerability to manufacturing centered in Asia.

Intel announced tens of billions of investment in new chipmaking facilities for Europe, including a new fab mega site in Germany and expansion in Ireland. In January, it announced a plan for a $20 billion plant in Ohio.

Gelsinger said supply of chipmaking equipment is “the most important pinch point to the build-out of capacity today.”

He added that he’s urging authorities in the U.S. and Europe, which have each launched their own “Chips Act” to promote national semiconductor manufacturing, to speed up the legislation.

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The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting has kicked off Monday in Davos, Switzerland.

The village in the Swiss Alps has been transformed into a glitzy venue for the four-day confab ostensibly dedicated to making the world a better place. The event is resuming in person after a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also delayed this year’s meeting from its usual winter slot.

Thousands of corporate executives, government officials and other VIPs filled the conference venue, both to schmooze and listen to panel discussions on topics like sustainability, climate change and the Russia-Ukraine war.

Attendees also are visiting nearby pavilions on Davos’ main drag set up by companies like Intel, Accenture and Facebook owner Meta.

One of the main attractions on opening day is a virtual keynote speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. There’s also a sizable Ukrainian government delegation attending in person, making their case for more Western support in the country’s fight against Russia.

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