Shares in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company fell as much as 4% on Wednesday, after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway disclosed that it had sold most of its holdings in the chip giant.
In a Tuesday filing with the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission, Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) said it had about 8.3 million American depository shares of TSMC worth $618 million, having sold 86% of its shares. Just months before, in November, the company held about 60 million American depository shares of TSMC worth $4.1 billion, according to an SEC filing.
Berkshire Hathaway did not provide a reason for the sale and did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment. TSMC had no comment on the share sale.
Shares in TSMC, which accounts for an estimated 90% of the world’s super-advanced computer chips, ended Wednesday more than 3% lower.
Last month, the chipmaker posted strong quarterly and annual earnings, but gave a muted forecast on prospects for 2023 given the global slump in electronics demand because of rising inflation.
Due to TSMC’s record earnings in 2022, its board approved on Tuesday the distribution of $121 billion New Taiwan Dollars ($4 billion) in performance-related bonuses and profit sharing to employees based in Taiwan.
With nearly 65,000 employees on the island as of the end of last year, that would work out as an average of $62,000 per employee – if distributed equally.
The board also approved a plan to inject up to $3.5 billion into the company’s subsidiary in Arizona, which will be part of a previously announced investment of $40 billion in the United States. TSMC announced last year that it’s building a second semiconductor factory in Phoenix and increasing its investment there.
The world’s most important chipmaker, highly sought after by governments globally, is considering opening its first plant in Europe and a second one in Japan. TSMC’s global expansion comes as political tension has heightened between Washington and Beijing.
Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a planned trip to China in response to the flying of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the United States.
In October, President Joe Biden’s administration imposed sweeping new curbs designed to curtail China’s access to technology critical to its growing military power.
Last month, a Dutch maker of semiconductor equipment, ASML, told CNN that “rules are being finalized” on export controls to China, amid reports that the Netherlands and Japan have joined the United States in restricting sales of some computer chip machinery to the country.
A few days later, multiple media outlets reported that Washington was moving to further restrict sales of American technology to Chinese tech giant Huawei, CNN reports.
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