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Intel Gets $20 Billion in US Grants, Loans for Chip Plants

Intel Gets $20 Billion in US Grants, Loans for Chip Plants

The US will award Intel Corp. $8.5 billion in grants and as much as $11 billion in loans to help fund an expansion of its semiconductor factories, marking the largest award from a program designed to reinvigorate the domestic chip industry. 

The package will support more than $100 billion in US investments from Intel, including efforts to produce cutting-edge semiconductors at large-scale plants in Arizona and Ohio, the Commerce Department announced Wednesday. The money also will help pay for equipment research and development and advanced packaging projects at smaller facilities in Oregon and New Mexico.

In addition, Intel has indicated that it plans to tap investment tax credits from the Treasury Department that could cover as much as 25% of capital expenditures, according to the Commerce Department.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden will tour an Intel campus in Phoenix and announce a preliminary agreement with Intel for a major award from the 2022 Chips and Science Act. Intel is the first company to land a Chips Act funding deal for advanced chipmaking facilities.

Intel shares were up 0.5% in New York. They’d previously closed at $42.05 and had declined 16% this year.

The Chips Act set aside $39 billion in grants — plus loans and guarantees worth $75 billion — to persuade chip companies to build factories on American soil. The goal is to reverse a decades-long shift of semiconductor production to Asia. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has said the US aims to produce one-fifth of the world’s advanced logic chips by the end of the decade, and that Intel’s investments are a key part of that goal.

Intel won’t get all of the funding right away. The money will take months if not years to be disbursed and will be contingent upon Intel meeting production goals and other benchmarks. Commerce officials, who expect money to start flowing by the end of this year, will have the ability to claw it back if Intel fails to meet those thresholds.

An administration official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement, declined to specify those milestones and said they will be further articulated as Intel progresses toward a final agreement.

For Intel, the facilities are part of an ambitious turnaround bid under Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger. The effort has included building up a foundry business — an operation that makes chips for other companies — and Intel recently secured Microsoft Corp. as a high-profile customer.

Gelsinger also has been trying to restore Intel’s technological capabilities. In recent years, the company had fallen behind Asian rivals Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co. in that area. They too are stepping up US expansion plans and are expected to receive their own Chips Act awards in coming weeks.

Read more about Chips Act awards

Commerce earlier announced three awards for companies that make less-advanced chips, totaling around $1.7 billion in grants and $1.6 billion in loans across those projects. The administration official declined to specify how much federal funding will go to each of Intel’s projects, describing the award as a holistic agreement.

Gelsinger said that it’s been economically uncompetitive to build plants in the US compared with East Asia. These awards help redress that imbalance, he said. The US’s loss of chip manufacturing took place over decades, and it may take more than the current program of support to fully reverse that trend.

“I do think we’ll need a Chips II,” he said, speaking with reporters ahead of the event. “It doesn’t get fixed on one three-to-five-year program.”

Intel’s award will be the “single-biggest announcement of a grant to any Chips recipient,” Raimondo told reporters ahead of the news. The projects will create more than 30,000 construction and manufacturing jobs across four states, she added, pointing to $50 million set aside in Intel’s award specifically for workforce development.

The timeline for those jobs will vary from facility to facility, the official said, emphasizing that Intel’s construction plans remain in line with their initial projections. That has been a concern: Intel’s shares took a hit earlier this year after the Wall Street Journal reported a delay in Ohio.

The first of several Arizona facilities will be operational by the end of this year, the official added, and the chipmaker expects construction to finish in late 2026 in Ohio.

Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing On US Security
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said that Intel’s award will be the single-biggest to any Chips Act recipient.

The funding announced Wednesday is focused solely on commercial production. But Intel is also expected to receive some $3.5 billion in funding for manufacturing of military and intelligence chips. That grant has thrown a wrench into broader Chips Act negotiations over the past few weeks because the Pentagon pulled out from a plan to foot more than two-thirds of the bill.

The military’s so-called secure enclave program is run through a separate process, the official said, declining to provide any further updates.

Read More: Pentagon Scraps Plan to Spend $2.5 Billion on Intel Grant

The Commerce Department earlier announced awards to the American subsidiary of BAE Systems Plc, Microchip Technology Inc. and GlobalFoundries Inc. More than 600 companies have expressed interest in the funds in total, and advanced chipmakers alone had requested more than twice the amount of money set aside for them.

When asked whether the amount Intel is receiving is enough, Gelsinger said that both his company and the Commerce Department had learned a lot in the negotiations.

“We believe we’ve accomplished our objectives,” he said. “Would I like more? Of course, I’d like more.”

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