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TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world's largest contract chipmaker, said on Thursday it will consider sites in Taiwan before offshore options when it decides the location of a multi-billion dollar foundry early next year.
The Taiwan government is helping the company find the ideal location for an advanced technology 3-nanometer chip plant, it added.
"We do not exclude locations in other countries, but a Taiwan location will be our first consideration," acting spokeswoman Elizabeth Sun told reporters on the sidelines of a shareholders' meeting.
The plan comes at a time when other tech heavyweights, like Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, which goes by the trade name of Foxconn, and Japan's SoftBank Group Corp, look to deepen investment in their U.S. businesses. This follows Donald Trump's presidential win last year, built on a campaign promise to boost American manufacturing and jobs.
TSMC Chairman Morris Chang said in January he would not rule out a U.S. plant but added that such a move would involve sacrifices for both the company and consumers, pointing to the benefits of being able to shift engineers across the firm's Taiwan factories.
TSMC, a major supplier to Apple Inc, has also flagged plans for the development of 5-nanometer chip plant. A Taiwan location for that factory is under environmental review, Sun said.
The contract chipmaker's plans for new plants come in the wake of record sales and profits last year and an upbeat outlook for 2017 as the shift to mobile computing creates robust global demand for its products.
"This year should also be a pretty good year. Our stock price is very, very good and healthy," Chang told shareholders on Thursday.
The stock closed up 0.7 percent at a record high to value the firm at T$5.52 trillion ($184 billion), boosted by Chang's comments and as shareholders approved a cash dividend of T$7 for 2016, up from T$6 a year earlier.
Its shares have climbed steadily over the past seven years and this year it surpassed Intel Corp in market value.
Chang played down TSMC's decision to pull out of the race for Toshiba Corp's highly prized chip business, saying after 6-7 weeks of intense deliberation earlier this year, the company decided the acquisition didn't fit with its strategy.
"This kind of opportunity will be there in the future," he told shareholders.
Toshiba aims to name the buyer for its $18 bln chips business next week, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Reporting by Jess Macy Yu and J.R. Wu; Additional reporting by Murali Anantharaman; Editing by Sam Holmes and Edwina Gibbs