UMC Chairman Exits in Political Hot-Spot

The chairman of United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) is stepping down in hopes of heading off any more political pressure arising from a regulatory probe of recent stock trades involving company employees.

In a letter to the company’s shareholders, Robert Tsao said he is resigning and defended UMC’s actions, “with regard to a recent financial filing incident.”

In the letter, he called UMC and its employees an important national asset, and called the regulatory probe of the company as well as pressure on UMC a loss for the nation.

“In its most recent statements, the Financial Supervisory Commission has resorted to accusing UMC employees of insider trading, and I hope that this reckless behavior will end with my resignation
before it causes excessive damage to the credibility of the government.

The letter said “UMC has acted in complete compliance with international standards, and has done nothing illegal or made any oversights. Unfortunately, the filing process, carried out with complete professionalism and fully in accordance with global practices, has been greeted in Taiwan by distortion and political
manipulation, with total disregard for right or wrong. I am shocked and
surprised by the manner in which the facts have been distorted.”

The letter apparently came after Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission said it was reviewing recent stock transactions involving UMC, one of the world’s largest contract-makers of semi-conductors.

Tsao said before he leaves the chairman’s position, effective by the March, 2006 UMC board meeting, he would make sure the transition is a smooth one with company leadership. He also expressed confidence that the operations of the company will continue unaffected.

Shares of UMC, which are listed on the New York Stock Exchange as American Depository Receipts, were down by 5 cents to $3.18 late Thursday.

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