Apple’s Secret New iPhone Just Made This 86-Year-Old a Billionaire

Updated on
  • TSMC chairman sees fortune hit $1 billion on share rally
  • Apple’s chipmaker climbs 27 percent in lead-up to new iPhone

Apple Working on Feature to Use Face to Unlock iPhone

The chairman of the world’s largest contract chipmaker has become a billionaire thanks to expected demand for Apple Inc.’s new iPhone.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) shares have surged 27 percent in the past year, lifting founder and Chairman Morris Chang’s personal fortune to $1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Chang, 86, owns 0.5 percent of the business directly and through his family, according to a May 2017 filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

Morris Chang

Photographer: Billy H.C. Kwok/Bloomberg

The climbing valuation is being fueled by optimism for a revenue boost from the upcoming iPhone release, as well as long-term expectations that cars, high-performance computing and the Internet of Things will be a new growth driver for its processors, according to Randy Abrams, a Taipei-based equity analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG. 

Elizabeth Sun, TSMC’s spokeswoman, declined to comment on Chang’s net worth.

Processor Demand

The Taiwanese chip giant reported after the market’s close on Thursday that its net income had fallen to NT$66.3 billion ($2.2 billion) in the three months ended June amid seasonal weakness in demand for smartphone chipsets and gains in the local currency. Analysts had been expecting earnings of NT$69.6 billion on average.

Read more: TSMC’s Sales Forecast Misses Estimates Despite iPhone Boost

TSMC’s market cap has swelled to $183 billion, making it the most valuable company on Taiwan’s stock exchange. Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the listed flagship of iPhone assembler Foxconn Technology Group, is the second-most valuable company on the exchange, rising 52 percent in the past year to $66 billion.

The Taiwan Taiex Electronics Index, a measure of the market’s technology stocks, is up 18 percent in the same period.

WWDC and What's Next for Apple

Chang founded TSMC in 1987 with backing from Taiwan’s government, which remains the company’s largest shareholder through the National Development Fund’s 6.4 percent stake.

Read more: Apple Supplier Sales Are Fodder for Both Bulls and Bears: Gadfly

The graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University spent the majority of his career working for Texas Instruments Inc. He established TSMC when he was in his mid-50s, where he became the first to build a semiconductor factory that made chips based on the designs of its customers. He stepped down as chief executive officer in 2005 only to return when TSMC’s business stagnated, serving another stint as CEO between 2009 and 2013.

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(Updates with earnings in fifth paragraph.)
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