China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund Co., Ltd.
Native name
国家集成电路产业投资基金股份有限公司
Company typeState-owned enterprise
IndustryInvestment management
Founded26 September 2014; 9 years ago (2014-09-26)
HeadquartersBeijing, China
Key people
Zhang Xin (President)
AUMUS$45 billion (2023)[1]
OwnersMinistry of Finance (36.74%)
China Development Bank (22.29%)
China Tobacco (11.14%)

The China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund (ICF; Chinese: 国家集成电路产业投资基金; pinyin: Guójiā Jíchéng Diànlù Chǎnyè Tóuzī Jījīn), also known as the National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund and the Big Fund (Chinese: 国家大基金; pinyin: Guójiā Dàjījīn),[2]: 274  is a China Government Guidance Fund. The fund aims to help China reach its national goal of achieving self-sufficiency in the semiconductor industry (as part of the Made in China 2025 plan) by investing in domestic semiconductor companies. It has played a significant role with regards to the semiconductor industry in China by funding companies such as SMIC, Hua Hong Semiconductor, and YMTC.

The fund has two phases of five years each with Big Fund I (2014 to 2019) and Big Fund II (2019 to 2024). The fund's management company is Sino IC Capital.[3]

History

In June 2014, the State Council of the People's Republic of China proposed in the National Integrated Circuit Industry Development Guidelines that a national investment fund should be set up to provide focused support for the development of the Integrated Circuit Industry.[4][5] In August 2014, the fund management company, Sino IC Capital, was established by China Development Bank, which would own 45% of the company.[6][5]

On 26 September 2014, ICF was established.[4][6][7] According to a statement on the website of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), it was set up to "invest in chip manufacturing, boost industrial production, and promote mergers and acquisitions".[4] The fund operates as a corporate entity under MIIT and the Ministry of Finance.[4][7] It adopted a two tier management structure where the board set the strategy and approved major projects while Sino IC Capital carried out the investments and managed the money.[6] The near-term goal was growing annual revenue of domestic semiconductor companies from 2015 to 2020 and to become a global leader in all segments of the semiconductor supply chain by 2030.[4]

According to MIIT, the fund raised US$21.8 billion in its first financing round in 2014.[4][6][8][9] At the start, it deployed at least 60% of its capital into chipmaking investments, according to GF Securities.[6][9] The performance of the first phase exceeded market expectations.[8][9]

In 2019, ICF raised US$29.08 billion for its second phase.[6][7][9] 75% of which went into wafer fabrication projects, according to CSC Financial.[6] The investment approach was more conservative than the first phase.[8][9]

In 2022, the fund became dormant for a few months following the anti-graft investigations in July that lead to the downfall of its chief, Ding Wenwu. The fund resumed investment operations in early 2023 and on 10 March, selected Zhang Xin as its new head.[1]

In September 2023, it was reported that ICF for its third phase was raising money for another fund with a fundraising target of around US$40 billion.[10]

In February 2024 it was reported the third fund would raise over US$27 billion. Investors included the Shanghai Municipal People's Government and State Development and Investment Corporation. [11]

Operations

CF deploys its capital by holding minority stakes in publicly traded companies.[6][8] Some of its investments are outside China.[8] It also used to invest in investment firms such as Oriza Holdings via a fund of funds strategy, which allows it to indirectly invest further into more companies such as Ingenic Semiconductor.[6][8] It has achieved success with investments in SMIC and Hua Hong Semiconductor but also has setbacks such as its investment in Tsinghua Unigroup, which had to undergo bankruptcy reorganization.[6][8][12][13]

The largest shareholders of the fund include the Ministry of Finance, China Development Bank, China Tobacco, China Mobile, and China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, which are government agencies and state-owned enterprises.[4][6][8][13]

The fund has a very low profile and does not even have its own website. It is stated to lack transparency.[4][13]

Corruption investigation scandal and criticism of the fund

In July 2022, ICF, Sino IC Capital, and several current and former executives were investigated by the Chinese Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection as part of an anti-graft crackdown. The scandal raised questions over the fund's efficiency and future value. There have long been rumors circulating in the industry on how ICF managers illegally benefited from the companies they invested in. In recent years, the fund attracted criticism for failed projects such as Tsinghua Unigroup, Wuhan Hongxin, and Hunan Goke Microelectronics which were invested in despite a lack of financial viability or relevant experience . It was also reported that ICF staff had limited incentive plans with only fixed salaries. They would witness staff at the companies they invested in become billionaires while they themselves would only receive fixed salaries that would seem minuscule in comparison. As a result, positions at the fund would be less attractive to capable managers. Since 2020, the fund has experienced a brain drain with at least a quarter of its original staff leaving.[6][8][12][13][9]

Some argue that the ICF has completed its objective and is no longer needed, while others say it is still required.[8]

Notable investments

References

  1. ^ a b "China's 'Big Fund' Gets New Boss To Fight US Chip Export Curbs". Bloomberg.com. 13 March 2023. Archived from the original on 13 March 2023. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  2. ^ Zhang, Angela Huyue (2024). High Wire: How China Regulates Big Tech and Governs Its Economy. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oso/9780197682258.001.0001. ISBN 9780197682258.
  3. ^ "China's top anti-corruption body probes ex-semiconductor fund executive". South China Morning Post. 18 July 2022. Archived from the original on 14 September 2023. Retrieved 11 September 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "How China's 'Big Fund' is helping the country catch up in chip race". South China Morning Post. 10 May 2018. Archived from the original on 1 April 2023. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  5. ^ a b "Establishment of China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund (ICF) and Its Management Company". www.cdb-capital.com. Archived from the original on 1 April 2023. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "Five Things to Know About China's Scandal-Struck Chip Industry 'Big Fund'". Caixin. Archived from the original on 1 April 2023. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  7. ^ a b c d "China closes second round of Big Fund aimed at boosting domestic chip R&D". South China Morning Post. 26 July 2019. Archived from the original on 1 April 2023. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Auto, Hermes (8 August 2022). "Graft scandal casts long shadow over China's chipmaking ambitions". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 1 April 2023. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Randall, Stewart (12 August 2022). "Why is China investigating semiconductor "Big Fund"?". TechNode. Archived from the original on 1 April 2023. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  10. ^ Zhu, Julie; Huang, Kevin; Mo, Yelin; Liu, Roxanne (5 September 2023). "Exclusive: China to launch $40 billion state fund to boost chip industry". Reuters. Archived from the original on 5 September 2023. Retrieved 5 September 2023.
  11. ^ Dong, Cao (8 March 2024). "China Readies $27 Billion Chip Fund to Counter Growing US Curbs". Bloomberg.com. Archived from the original on 9 March 2024. Retrieved 11 March 2024.
  12. ^ a b "China Graft Probes Stem From Anger Over Failed Chip Plans". Bloomberg News. 9 August 2022. Archived from the original on 10 August 2022. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  13. ^ a b c d "China's Big Fund corruption probe casts shadow over chip sector". Financial Times. 28 September 2022. Archived from the original on 1 April 2023. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  14. ^ "China's Silan Soars as Big Fund II Plans to Invest USD95 Million in Its Chip Project". www.yicaiglobal.com. Archived from the original on 9 March 2024. Retrieved 16 March 2024.