Another ASML tool hit by US export curbs, China at 46% of sales

By Toby Sterling
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -The chief executive of Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASML Holding NV said one more of its products falls under new export restrictions rules affecting China announced by the U.S. this week.

The Twinscan NXT1980Di tool can be used to help make both relatively advanced computer chips as well as mid-range and older chips.

“In principle the 1980s would fall under the export control restrictions, but only when … (they) are used for advanced semiconductor manufacturing,” CEO Peter Wennink said at a press conference late on Wednesday.

Wennink said he expects demand from Chinese chipmakers to remain strong, despite the growing list of export restrictions imposed by the U.S. and Dutch governments. China accounted for 46% of ASML’s total sales in the third quarter.

The Netherlands announced its own export licensing rules in June.

It was not immediately clear whether the U.S. rules were imposed with consent of the Dutch government, but ASML said it would comply.

Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher said on Thursday that the Netherlands shares U.S. security concerns.

“Ultimately, every country decides for itself what export restrictions to impose,” she said.

The company believes that in practice, the restriction on exports of the Twinscan NXT1980Di tool will only apply to a small number of Chinese plants, he said.

ASML dominates the market for lithography equipment, used by chipmakers such as TSMC, Samsung and Intel to help create the circuitry of chips. China is historically its third-largest market after Taiwan and South Korea.

Earlier export restrictions have prevented the company from shipping its most advanced products to China.

But sales to China were exceptionally high in the third quarter as the company worked off an order backlog amid weaker demand from other regions — and a rush by Chinese customers to ensure they have tools before Dutch restrictions fully take hold.

“I don’t think we will see a peak this year, I think there will be a significant amount of demand coming out of China for mature technology,” CEO Wennink said, adding that the export restrictions impact around 15% of ASML’s sales to China.

On Wednesday ASML warned that 2024 sales may be flat as chipmakers delay capital spending amid an uncertain economic outlook.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling, Karen Freifeld, Stephen Nellis; editing by Bernadette Baum and Jason Neely)

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