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Renesas to slash nearly 1,000 jobs in shift overseas

Chipmaker continues restructuring Japanese operations as market contracts

Renesas Electronics' Naka plant in Japan's Ibaraki Prefecture. The chipmaker has kept slimming down its domestic operations even after returning to profitability. (Photo by Kotaro Hosokawa)

TOKYO -- Japanese chipmaker Renesas Electronics will cut almost 1,000 workers from its payrolls at the end of June, Nikkei has learned, as part of a pivot abroad to compensate for a shrinking domestic market.

The company will offer early retirement packages mostly to employees in Japan, expected to focus on back-office, engineering and other staff aged 35 or older. These cutbacks, equivalent to 5% of Renesas' groupwide workforce, mark its first voluntary retirement program since December 2014, when it fielded 1,800 takers.

From 2011 through 2014, during a crisis brought on by the March 2011 earthquake on top of a strong yen, Renesas shed a total of 14,000 jobs through such buyouts. While the company has consistently turned a profit on an annual basis since fiscal 2014, restructuring continues with steps like the plan announced in June to shut down a Yamaguchi Prefecture plant in two or three years.

These moves come as part of a change in corporate focus. Japan's share of the global semiconductor market has fallen by more than half over the past decade to just 8% or so, and the home country now accounts for just 42% of Renesas' sales, down from 54% in the fiscal year through March 2011, its first year of operation.

Renesas has used acquisitions to build up its overseas presence, including its February 2017 purchase of U.S. chipmaker Intersil. The chipmaker announced last September it would buy another American company, Integrated Device Technology, for $6.7 billion. While the partial U.S. government shutdown delayed the review process, Renesas expects to complete the deal in the first half of 2019.

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