Chinese memory chip maker YMTC to lay off 10% of workforce; details here

Yangtze Memory Technologies Corp. Moneycontrol

The cycle of layoffs by corporations across the globe continues. Big firms like Google, Microsoft, Meta, and Salesforce have downsized a large portion of their workforce. At present, Google is in the process of firing 12,000 employees, while Microsoft has let go of 10,000 workers. Now, Chinese memory chip maker, Yangtze Memory Technologies Corp (YMTC), has also made its name in the list of corporations that are reducing their workforce. YMTC will lay off 10 percent of its employees. This development comes after the company was added to a US trade blacklist.

The YMTC as well as 35 other Chinese entities were added to the trade blacklist by the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security. The trade blacklist restricts procurement of US products and services without the process being approved by the American government. As per allegations by the US, YMTC has offered products to companies like Huawei Technologies Co and Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co, which are already under American trade restrictions.

If confirmed, the number of laid off workers could go into the hundreds. About 6,000 people work in YMTC, as per corporate registry database Qichacha. The laid off employees were internally identified as “underperformers” in their 2022 performance review, as told by a source familiar with the matter to South China Morning Post.

One of the laid off YMTC employees posted on Chinese social media platform Zhihu that the firm asked him to pay back over 400,000 yuan (over Rs 48 lakh). The worker was asked to pay back for a subsidised apartment he purchased in Wuhan, where the YMTC is headquartered. He had worked in the company for more than four years. According to the employee, who wished to remain anonymous, he had purchased the apartment at a discount under the corporation’s preferential housing policy. But since his service was less than five years, the company told him to pay the price difference after firing him.

According to the employee, the job cuts impact nearly all the departments and make up 5-10 percent of the staff. He went on to add that the fired workers, who bought the subsidised housing but worked for China’s top NAND flash chip maker for less than five years, were asked to repay sums ranging from 300,000 to 1 million yuan.

YMTC’s latest troubles come as the company is facing US restrictions on the export of leading edge semiconductor technology to China. The company was added to US’s Entity List by the Biden administration in December 2022 to restrict China’s “ability to leverage artificial intelligence, advanced computing, and other powerful, commercially available technologies for military modernisation and human rights abuses”, according to a statement by Alan Estevez, the US Commerce Department’s industry and security undersecretary.

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