The largest Japanese maker NEC, for example, will likely invest between 130 and 150 billion yen, compared with 150 billion yen this fiscal year which ends in March, according to a report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, a major Japanese business daily.
Total spending by all of the five biggest chipmakers is estimated at between 430-460 billion yen on plant and equipment in 1999, about the same level as the previous year, the report said.
The paper says the five are firming up investment plans now and will decide on final figures by the middle of March.
One of the most ominous figures cited in the report: The combined investment in plant and equipment hit 890 billion yen in 1995--compared to the projected 460 billion in 1999--and has fallen off each year since then. Moreover, the companies are all expected to report operating losses in their chip businesses in 1998.