July 19, 2024
Dutch government created task force to keep ASML in Netherlands

The Dutch government has reportedly launched a secret task force to keep chip giant ASML in the Netherlands.

Dubbed “Operation Beethoven,” the task force was formed to allay ASML’s fears about the local business climate, according to De Telegraaf.

Citing anonymous sources, the Dutch newspaper said the company was considering an expansion outside the Netherlands. France was mooted as a potential destination.

Such a move would leave a deep impact. ASML is Europe’s most valuable tech company. It’s also the world’s only manufacturer of EUV lithography machines, which are essential to producing the most advanced computer chips.

These unique capabilities have pushed ASML into the chip war between China and the US. Under recent government orders, the company was forced to curb shipments of its machines to China.

The new task force addresses another challenge, which has an entirely different political component.

ASML’s search for talent

ASML has neither confirmed nor denied that it’s considering a relocation, but the company has raised concerns about conditions in the Netherlands.

One involves a plan to phase out tax credits for ex-pats. Another stems from restrictions on immigration, which would tighten under the plans of far-right leader Geert Wilders, who sealed a shock election win last year.

ASML warns that the rules will block access to top talent.

“Ultimately, we can only grow this company if there are enough qualified people,” Peter Wennink, the company’s CEO, told RTL in January.

“We prefer to do that here, but if we cannot get those people here, we will get those people in Eastern Europe or in Asia or in the United States.”

According to De Telegraaf, Operation Beethoven was formed to address these concerns. Although the Dutch government has yet to acknowledge the task force’s existence, it has revealed that “intensive” talks with ASML are underway.

Micky Adriaansens, the country’s economic affairs minister, told Reuters that she was meeting Wennink on Wednesday.

“I don’t know if they would leave,” she said. “They want to grow. And they want to grow in such an amount, it puts a pressure on our infrastructure.

“That’s why we’re talking to them very intensively. Because we want to understand, is it something we can solve?”

The current talks could provide a momentous answer.

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