China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Co. (SMIC) on Thursday, August 11, announced the resignation of its two board members; co-CEO Zhao Haijun and independent director William Tudor Brown.

The company made the announcement about the board member change in its filing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. 

Mr. Zhao Haijun resigned as executive director and remained the company’s co-CEO. 

William Tudor Brown was co-founder and former president of U.K. chip designer Arm. ​​Brown, who has served on SMIC’s board for nine years, disclosed his resignation on his LinkedIn.

Nikkei Asia reported that with the departure of Brown, SMIC’s board of directors now has no foreign nationals. Many of its board members are former Chinese government officials, senior executives of state-backed tech firms, and local scholars.

The resignation came at a time China’s anti-corruption watchdog placed semiconductors’ big bosses under investigation. At least ten high-profile officials in China’s chip business and agencies have been probed in recent days. 

SMIC is a partially state-owned Chinese pure-play semiconductor foundry company. It is the largest contract chipmaker in mainland China and ranks 5th globally, with a market share of 5.3% in 2021.

SMIC is under severe sanctions from the U.S. government. The U.S. blacklisted SMIC in late 2020 on national security grounds over alleged links to China’s military. The U.S. prohibits American companies from selling equipment that could be used to make 10 nm and more advanced chips to SMIC without permission.

According to Nikkei Asia, four SMIC directors abruptly resigned last November. They included Vice Chairman Chiang Shang-Yi, a former executive of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. 

Chiang’s hiring was considered a success for SMIC and China’s chip ambitions. 

Chiang later admitted in an interview with the Computer History Museum in March that he regretted joining the Chinese firm, saying the move was “one of the foolish things” he had done.

Also, in its Thursday, August 9, filing, the China semiconductor industry champion’s profit dropped 25% for the second quarter due to COVID lockdowns.

Despite a 42% increase in revenue, its profit fell 25%, to nearly 538 million dollars.

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