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TSMC says to decide on U.S. chip plant next year

FILE PHOTO - A security personnel stands near the logo of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd (TSMC) during an investor conference in Taipei, July 16, 2014. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang/File Photo

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan's TSMC, the world's largest contract chipmaker and a major Apple Inc supplier, on Monday said it would take a decision next year on whether to build a U.S. chip plant.

In January, TSMC Chairman Morris Chang had said the company did not rule out the idea of building a U.S. foundry, joining a slew of global firms from automakers to luggage makers that are considering manufacturing in the United States amid President Donald Trump's push to create more jobs.

"We won't make a decision until next year," TSMC spokesperson Michael Kramer said. The company currently gets about 65 percent of its total revenue from the United States.

"We would sacrifice some benefits if we move to the States. But we have flexibility in Taiwan. If an earthquake happened for instance (in Taiwan), we could send thousands of people here as support, whereas it's harder in the States," he told Reuters.

Local media CNA news agency reported on Monday that TSMC would make a decision on the plant in the first half of 2018, citing unnamed sources.

The report also said TSMC was considering a T$500 billion ($16.41 billion) investment for the plant.

The consideration for a U.S. plant comes at a time when TSMC is reportedly looking at investing in Toshiba Corp's chip business. An industry source familiar with the matter said TSMC was deeply interested in the Toshiba unit.

(This story has been refiled to corrects Apple RIC)

(Reporting by Jess Macy Yu and J.R. Wu in Taipei; Editing by Himani Sarkar)