Behind The Scenes of Chi Mei’s Fall From Glory

Once a rising star, Chi Mei Lighting is now knee deep in debt with no help on the horizon by its two wealthy shareholders Foxconn Electronics and Chi Mei Corp. Founder and chairman of Foxconn Terry Gou wholeheartedly supports his affiliate company Advanced Optoelectronic Technology (AOT) but has washed his hands of Chi Mei’s financial crisis. Chi Mei Corp also refuses to meddle with Chi Mei’s depreciating assists. Before Chi Mei went out of business, the company’s entire executive staff deserted the company leaving it high and dry.

Headlines about Chi Mei’s NT$5.6 billion in unpaid debts plastered all over newspapers brought the rumor of the company’s financial crisis to light. Chi Mei is still considered a relatively new company on the market, so it was surprising when the two shareholders Foxconn and Chi Mei Corp wanted nothing to do with the company when it went under. The board members unceremonious exodus in July not only stunned the company, but caused shareholder to completely cut ties with the company. 

The Rise and Fall of Chi Mei Lighting

With the market moving towards Back-lit LED panel lighting and a bright future in SSL application, Chi Mei Corp ambitiously invested NT$1 billion in establishing Chi Mei Lighting in 2006, making it the first vertical integrated LED manufacture in Taiwan.

After the establishment of Chi Mei Lighting, Ching-siang Liao was appointed as chairman of the fledgling company and executive vice president of Chi Mei Optoelectronic Corp (CMO) Biing-seng Wu was given the position of GM. Notable investments and talent for headhunting lured many within the industry over to Chi Mei Corp’s side. Numerous technology companies that had once merged with Epistar, South Epitaxy Corp and UMC later left and chose to become part of CMO.

With the full backing from Chi Mei Corp, Chi Mei Lighting was in its heyday. After a strong turnaround in profit in early 2008, Ching-siang Liao boasted that he planned to invest NT$10 billion within the next 5 years, taking the throne from Epistar. In a surprising turn of events however, the financial crisis peaked at the end of 2008, effecting CMO’s operations and later that of Chi Mei Lighting’s. After the merger of CMO and Innolux in 2009, circumstances had made a complete 180. Chi Mei Corp completely left Chi Mei Lighting by the wayside. 

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