ASML CEO optimistic about growth plans: ‘Convinced that we will work it out’


This article was last updated on June 20, 2024

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ASML CEO optimistic about growth plans: ‘Convinced that we will work it out’

Things must be strange if chip machine maker ASML does not want to double its size in the Netherlands. “As far as I’m concerned, most traffic lights are absolutely green,” says financial CEO Roger Dassen in conversation with NOS. The company is responding extensively for the first time to recent developments.

ASML makes the machines that manufacturers use to produce chips. These end up in every conceivable device, ranging from solar panels and refrigerators to telephones and laptops. If the demand for chips grows, ASML will grow and with it the region around Eindhoven.

To facilitate this expansion, a package of 2.5 billion euros is on the table. The Eindhoven city council supports the plan, but CEO Dassen is keeping a low profile.

There are still some loose ends, such as nitrogen and the expat scheme. In other words: politically sensitive files, which have been the subject of considerable discussion in The Hague in recent years. Dassen is positive: “These are important files, but I am convinced that we will reach a solution together.”

New political face

In recent years, CEO Peter Wennink sat at the table with politicians. He retired in April. It is now up to Dassen to maintain those contacts. Both Wennink and Dassen come from the accounting firm Deloitte, although Wennink had already worked at ASML for many years when Dassen came in as the chief financial officer in 2018. Wennink held that position before him.

In recent years, Dassen was ultimately responsible for the figures. With the change at the top, the Frenchman Christophe Fouquet is now the top boss, Dassen has been given the political portfolio.

He will be the ASML face for The Hague and is closely involved in the development from ‘Project Beethoven’, as the government’s billion-dollar impulse is called to keep tech companies such as ASML and NXP in the Netherlands.

That means playing chess on multiple boards. For example, ties must be strengthened with the PVV as the largest government party, which also provides the Ministers of Economic Affairs and Foreign Trade. These are two key positions for ASML in The Hague.

At the same time, there is intensive contact with the municipality of Eindhoven. The advice is true agree with the expansion plans, but also showed himself to be critical and expressed concerns. In concrete terms, ASML’s growth means that the company will create 20,000 jobs. In addition, another 50,000 employees are expected to be employed by suppliers.

That means extra houses, school classes and public facilities. Eindhoven had already taken such growth figures into account, but now towards 2040. This is therefore gaining enormous momentum.

During the council meeting earlier this month, GroenLinks, the largest party in Eindhoven, raised the question of whether ASML is paying enough. Dassen is clear about this: “I think we are making our contribution to the best of our ability.” He also points out that the company is “an important taxpayer”, “perhaps the largest in the Netherlands”.

Important tax benefit

The chip machine maker is known to need many employees from abroad. In the Netherlands, 40 percent of ASML staff are international. The company uses the expat scheme for this; a tax credit for highly educated knowledge migrants. Since this year, the scheme has been simplified and is being phased out gradually.

Multinationals like ASML are not happy with this. This makes it more difficult to attract talent, the companies say. The company would therefore like to see the cuts reversed.

Dassen speaks of “a breaking point for the Netherlands” if that fails, but at the same time he does not see it as a breaking point for his own growth plans. “I am confident that politicians will deal with this in a good way,” he says.

Dassen receives support via a report published on Friday, written on behalf of the Ministry of Finance, which shows that the scheme yields more for the treasury than it costs.

According to Dassen, paying the difference out of your own pocket is not an option. “If you, as an employer, reimburse this, you will pay people differently for the same work. A Dutch person will then receive a lower salary than a person who does the same work, but has a different passport. As an employer, I cannot do that.”

ASML has a ‘plan B’ in place, should the expansion in Eindhoven be canceled. But, Dassen emphasizes: that plan is not nearly as concrete as the plans that are currently in place.

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