Siemens summons partners for PC plant
Ah, but will they come?
The dark cloud hanging over Siemens' Augsburg PC plant grew larger yesterday with the news that the company doesn't see it as possible to continue with it on its own. Speaking at Comdex Enterprise in Frankfurt company CEO Gerhard Schulmeyer reportedly blamed overseas competition, and said that Siemens couldn't continue its PC building operations single-handed. Earlier in the day Siemens had issued a statement saying it was looking for a partner for the Augsburg plant. The doubts about Augsburg's future arose three weeks ago when Acer pulled out of a deal to take over the plant and build PCs for Siemens to badge there, alongside its own machines. The tussle then was over price and volume commitments, but the very facts that Siemens went into the Acer deal in the first place, and that Acer initially intended to build more PCs there than Siemens needed, pointed inexorably to a bottom line. Siemens couldn't sustain PC manufacturing there on its own, and Siemens' capacity there was in excess of its needs. We noted this hereabouts when Siemens, just after the deal collapsed, said it would carry on with Augsburg on its own. No it wouldn't, we said. Exactly where the company thinks it's going to get a partner now is another tricky question. Anybody want to buy more PC capacity at a European plant handily-placed for building machines for, er, Russia? Meanwhile, we hear a British Siemens exec laying about himself blaming everybody but Siemens for the closure of its UK semiconductor fab. "Organisations like Dataquest," Lou Avis grumbled to BBC radio last night: "They predicted there was going to be an expansion of the market three years ago." And then there was that Taiwanese partner (sorry, we didn't catch the name, but we don't think it was Acer) - "If they'd stayed on board…" Ah yes, and then those pesky Koreans: "Korean companies have been able to gain as a result of their misfortune… IMF money has gone to shore up their capability and profitability." Funnily enough, the lad didn't say a dicky bird about companies who build commodity fab (wrong kind of DRAM) on the strength of a couple of Dataquest reports, without querying the feasibility of DRAM's miraculous sustained high price (we'd been querying that round here for years, till it started going through the floor). Avis ended the interview more than a little lamely, pointing out that even if nobody wanted to buy the fab, the admin bit was pretty cool. "Anyone that wants a prestigious office building…" ® Click for more stories