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UPDATE 1-Renesas sees 17 bln yen sales revenue loss in Q2 due to fire

(Adds CEO and executives comments, details)

TOKYO, April 28 (Reuters) - Renesas Electronics Corp , a major supplier of automotive semiconductors, said on Wednesday that it sees a sales revenue loss of 17 billion yen in the second quarter due to a fire at its chip plant.

Renesas also said it now expects its fire-hit chip production capacity to recover about 40% of pre-fire level by end-April.

“We are recovering slightly behind what we had previously aimed for,” chief executive Hidetoshi Shibata said in an online earnings call. Renesas said last week it aims to recover the capacity to 50% in April.

“But we know very clearly what the bottleneck is, and have figured out how to handle it. We hope to catch up with our plans as soon as we enter May,” he added.

The Japanese firm restarted the 300mm wafer chip production line this month at its Naka plant northeast of Tokyo, four weeks after a fire burned an area of 600 square meters, destroyed machines and contaminated the sensitive clean room.

It disrupted about two-thirds of production on the line, in a blow to automakers worldwide who are already struggling due to a shortage of chips. Renesas plans to restore output at the plant by end-May.

Renesas commands nearly a third of the global market share for microcontroller chips used in cars.

The Japanese government has called on chip equipment makers to help Renesas restore production, with industry ministry officials asking companies at home and abroad to provide parts and machinery to the company.

When asked how Renesas will stabilise its supply amid a tight supply and demand of semiconductors, Shibata said the firm is strengthening disaster countermeasures and levelling up its multi-line production by creating a product with a similar function at multiple sites.

Renesas reported an operating profit of 30.19 billion yen ($277.30 million) for the first quarter on Wednesday, led by strong demand amid a global chip shortage. ($1 = 108.8700 yen) (Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Louise Heavens)

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