MILAN (Reuters) -Intel sees Italy as only one of several countries being considered to host a new chip plant and a decision should be reached by the end of the year, its CEO Pat Gelsinger told Italian daily Corriere della Sera on Friday.
The comments are a setback for Rome, which was hoping to get the nod for the plant, and for a faster decision.
“Italy is still in play, but so are other candidate countries […] We will decide within the year,” Gelsinger was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
The top executive said he held a phone call with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Tuesday.
Intel, in March 2022, said it aimed to build a chip factory in Italy as part of a wider plan to invest as much as 80 billion euros ($87 billion) over the next decade in building capacity across Europe.
The Italian factory would be an advanced semiconductor packaging and assembly plant, using new technologies to weave together full chips out of tiles.
Sources have previously said Meloni’s predecessor Mario Draghi had detailed a comprehensive agreement with Intel in early September to build the plant.
However, the deal was never finalised by the new right-wing administration, which took office in October.
“We continue to progress our discussions with Italy regarding a state-of-the-art back-end manufacturing facility,” an Intel spokesperson said on Friday, referring to the packaging plant.
“This is separate from other projects we are also considering in the area of assembly and test manufacturing, where we have not yet finalized locations or timing,” he added.
In her end-of-year news conference in December, Meloni said she considered an investment by Intel in Italy as highly strategic and would schedule a meeting with the company to explore ways to facilitate it.
An official in Meloni’s administration told Reuters earlier this month that Intel had started an in-depth assessment of its planned investments in Germany, France and Italy.
Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said on Wednesday the government was determined to secure Intel’s investment.
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(Writing by Alessia Pe and Giuseppe Fonte, additional reporting by Supantha Mukherjee, editing by Gavin Jones and Elaine Hardcastle)