US Thin-Film Supplier Shifts Production Plants

One of the world’s largest independent supplier of thin-film media for computer hard disk drives, Komag Inc, is shifting its large-scale production in the US to Malaysia in the last quarter of this year.

The move is in line with efforts to bring down costs and stimulate new applications in the troubled data storage industry.

“This shift of production volume into Malaysia will result in lower unit production costs and generate substantial cash savings in future,” said Komag’s Malaysian-born president and chief executive Tan Thian Hoo.

Under the accelerated phase down plan, Komag is expected to close down two plants in San Jose, and a third plant in Santa Clara acquired from Western Digital Corp in April.

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Seagate will not shut down any Malaysian plants

By Julian Matthews

PENANG–Seagate Technology, the world’s largest disk drive manufacturer, will not shut down any of its seven Malaysian plants, said a senior executive.

“We do not have any plans on the table to close any factory in Malaysia,” assured Seagate chief financial officer Charles Pope in a teleconference to announce the company’s first quarter results for fiscal 2000.

Last month, Seagate Malaysia offered voluntary retrenchment packages to its staff as part of a worldwide restructuring plan to bring headcount down by 10 percent.

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SyQuest to Shut Malaysian Plant, Retrench 1,000 Workers

By Julian Matthews

November 12,1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) — Removable disk drive maker SyQuest Technology Inc. will shut its manufacturing plants in Penang and displace almost 1,000 workers by year’s end, a government source said.

“About half of the 968 workers are to be retrenched by the end of November, and another half by December,” he said.

The source said the company attributed the closure to a fall in product demand, heavy losses incurred over the past two years and the inability of its headquarters to raise new capital.

The Penang facility has left a recorded message on its main telephone line stating it has shut down temporarily from Nov. 2 to Nov. 15 and would resume operations on Nov 16. Sources said workers were told a new product line would be introduced when the plant was re-opened.

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Penang Mooted as Removable Disk Drive Center

by Julian Matthews

A disk drive industry pioneer has predicted that Penang will become the removable disk drive capital of the world by the year 2000.

Castlewood Systems Inc president and CEO Syed Iftikar said this at the launch of the first Malaysian-owned plant to build 2.16-Gbyte magneto-resistive (MR) removable drives in August.

“If Singapore is the hard disk drive capital of the world, then I look forward to making Penang the leading manufacturer of removable drives in the world by the next millennium,” said Syed, who was the founder of SyQuest Technology Inc, and a co-founder of Seagate Technology Inc, where he invented the first 5.25-inch hard drive.

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Removable Drives to Replace Hard Disks, Says Industry Pioneer

By Julian Matthews

August 27, 1998 (PENANG, Malaysia) — Removable drives will replace hard disk drives eventually, said industry pioneer Syed Iftikar, president and CEO of Castlewood Systems Inc.

He made his comment in an interview with Asia BizTech on Aug. 13, when manufacturing for the company’s ORB 2.16GB magneto-resistive (MR) removable drive was launched by its first strategic partner, Trans Capital Holding Bhd., a local contract manufacturer.

Syed was the founder of SyQuest Technology Inc. and co-founder of Seagate Technology Inc., where he invented the 5.25-in. hard disk drive.

Castlewood Systems was founded in September 1996 and is a privately-held company based in Pleasanton, Calif.

Syed is pioneering the use of MR technology and Giant Magneto Resistive (GMR) technology licensed from IBM Corp. in removable drives.

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Read-Rite Closes Penang Plant, Lays Off 4,000 Workers

By Julian Matthews

July 21, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) — Read-Rite Corp., a maker of disk drive components, is closing its Malaysian operations and dismissing more than 4,000 staff.

“It is a difficult and painful decision, but we have to do it,” said Randall Hollis, vice president and managing director of Read-Rite Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

Hollis said “tremendous restructuring within the data storage industry” had forced the company to consolidate its Asian manufacturing facilities. He cited low product demand, low production volume and escalating costs as other factors for the move.

Read-Rite’s operations in Thailand and Philippines will take over the work of the Malaysian plant.

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Western Digital Reduces Workforce in S’pore

By Julian Matthews

May 21, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) — Western Digital Corp. has laid off 439 employees from its disk drive plant in Chai Chee, Singapore, the company announced in a statement last week (May 14). From Malaysia

The cuts were in response to the oversupply conditions and fierce pricing pressures affecting the company and the industry globally, said Vince Mastropietro, managing director of Western Digital (S) Pte Ltd.

“The headcount reduction is a direct and unfortunate consequence of the reductions in our production over the last several months,” he said.

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Seagate Rehires Former Employees to Meet Demand

by Julian Matthews

April 1, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) — Seagate Technology is rehiring former employees on a temporary basis after laying off more than 2,000 people in its Malaysia plants in February.

The move is to meet last- minute product orders to be shipped by June from its Prai assembly plant, said Penang Seagate Industries (M) Sdn., Bhd. managing director Timothy Harris.

The company already has recruited 130 ex-staff by offering them their last drawn salary for temporary employment of between one and three months. It has another 170 more vacancies to fill.

Seagate Malaysia’s manpower shortage was a direct result of a global retrenchment exercise carried out in February that triggered higher-than- expected attrition.

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Iomega Shifts All US Manufacturing to Penang

By Julian Matthews

Leading US removable disk drive maker Iomega Corp announced plans to shift production of its entire family of products from the US to Malaysia by the middle of 1997.

The shift to the US$30 million manufacturing facility in Penang will result in a cut of between 500 and 700 employees at the company’s headquarters in Roy, Utah.

Iomega (M) Sdn Bhd managing director K H Teh said the Penang facility will be in volume production of the company’s entire line of Jaz, Ditto and Zip drives and disks by the end of 1997.
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Western Digital Scores While Others Stumble

By Julian Matthews

The recent upheavals in the hard disk drive (HDD) manufacturing industry appear to have left US drive maker Western Digital Corp unscathed.

According to International Data Corp, Western Digital Corp is set to gain 18% market share in 1996 from 14% a year ago and is ranked third behind leaders Seagate Technology Inc and Quantum Corp.

At the opening of its second facility in Malaysia in October, chairman, president and CEO of Western Digital Corp, Charles Haggerty said in its 1996 fiscal year the company made about 15.3 million HDDs up from 10 million the previous year, raking in revenues of almost US$3 billion. The company is targeting to make 21 million HDDs in fiscal 1997.

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