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United Microelectronics, the world’s second-largest contract chipmaker, has threatened to delist from the Taiwan stock exchange, in the latest battle between the company’s pugnacious chairman and the authorities over corporate governance.
In a statement published in local newspapers on Wednesday, Robert Tsao, UMC chairman, attacked the Taiwan Stock Exchange and the Financial Supervisory Commission for their decision to fine the company for delayed disclosure.
“How can such a well-disciplined and rule-abiding company become a thorn in the side of the stock exchange and the FSC? Has Taiwan already become a nation of chaos? Should we delist and look for a better place to list? This question deserves careful consideration,” Mr Tsao said.
On December 13, UMC issued an English-language press release announcing revisions to past financial statements under US accounting standards.
But it failed to make a simultaneous disclosure to local investors prior to the start of trading on December 14. The Taiwan Stock Exchange reacted by fining UMC T$50,000 ($1,500), and FSC officials said investors had the right to sue the company.
UMC said it had discovered errors in the treatment of non-cash charges, goodwill, derivative instruments and employee stock bonuses when it re-examined past financial statements in response to comments by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Results under US accounting rules were therefore restated to a T$222m loss from a T$294m profit for 2002, to a T$10.48bn profit from a T$12.33bn profit for 2003, and to a T$14.24bn loss from a T$4.75bn loss for 2004.
UMC argues that since the changes did not affect its financial results under Taiwan accounting rules, they did not constitute vital information for Taiwan investors.
UMC officials, clarifying Mr Tsao’s remarks, said on Wednesday the company was not preparing concrete steps for delisting and the statement was only meant as a warning to regulators. But it is likely to further erode investor confidence as UMC continues its apparent power struggle with government authorities. UMC shares dropped more than 3 per cent on Wednesday to T$18.85.
Mr Tsao earlier this year launched similar public attacks on regulators, competitors and the judiciary in response to an investigation into alleged illegal transfer of company technology to Hejian, a China-based chip foundry, by UMC executives.