June 20, 2024
Netherlands devises €1B plan to keep ASML in the country

The Dutch government is reportedly finalising plans to inject at least €1bn in funding, in an agonised effort to keep ASML in the Netherlands.

Rumours that the crown jewel of the Dutch tech ecosystem is considering relocation were unveiled by local newspaper De Telegraaf earlier in March.

Citing anonymous sources, the paper said that the government set up a secret taskforce, dubbed “Operation Beethoven,” to alleviate ASML’s fears over the business climate in the Netherlands.

Now, according to inside information from Dutch news agency NOS, the taskforce is going to allocate over €1bn for the development of Eindhoven, where ASML’s offices are located.

The funding will target infrastructure investments in the region, housing, and an expansion of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) — in particular aiming to support the nurturing of a technically-skilled future workforce.

The government is also considering protecting the 30% ruling scheme (which allows expats moving to the Netherlands for work to keep 30% of their income untaxed) and enabling companies to buy back shares without getting taxed.

Losing ASML?

The potential loss of ASML would have a detrimental effect on the Dutch economy. The chip-machine maker is one of the country’s biggest employers and most profitable businesses, reaching a 27.6bn turnover in 2023.

It’s also Europe’s most valuable tech company with a unique position globally as the sole manufacturer of EUV lithography machines, which can produce the most advanced chips in the world.

“ASML in the Netherlands is an example of a business that’s successfully claimed a vital role in the semiconductor supply chain,” Mark Lippett, CEO at semiconductor company XMOS, told TNW.

“It’s a relatively small country, with a relatively small economy, and yet [ASML] has developed to become an absolute lynchpin company in the global semiconductor community — proving that small nations can exert a global impact through specialisation.”

ASML’s unique position in the global semiconductor supply chain has also placed it right in the middle of an ongoing chip war between China and the US.

While recent government orders restricted AMSL from selling two of its machines to China, Dutch trade minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen is now expressing what seems to be a shift in perspective. During an interview with Het Financiele Daagblad yesterday, Van Leeuwen said that defending the company’s interests is “number one priority.”

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