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Speculations abound on Infineon's future

Posted: 19 May 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:future Infineon? Germany? NXP merger?

The German press has often speculated about the imminent replacement of Infineon CEO Wolfgang Ziebart. Financial Times Deutschland has now joined the fray, and the issue has been clouded by talkagainof a deal with rival NXP Semiconductor.

According to the paper, Max Kley, chairman of Infineon's supervisory board, has asked Ziebart for a "clearing conversation" about the right strategy for the semiconductor vendor. "Things can't go on like this. There must be a solutionnot only regarding who is the right person for the top position, but also regarding the strategy," the paper quotes the anonymous top manager.

Kley is said to be the powerful man behind Infineon's scenes; and it is no secret that he has a critical stance towards Ziebart's performance. During the period after the sacking of former CEO Ulrich Schumacher and the hiring of Ziebart, Kley served as provisional CEO.

This is not the first time business papers or magazines in Germany have speculated about Ziebart's future. A few weeks ago, Sueddeutsche Zeitung had a similar article, and another magazine already several times quoted a person at the top management saying that Kley is actively searching for a successor for Ziebart. The common denominator in all these articles is that the whistle-blower remained anonymous.

However, Peter Bauer, currently leading Infineon's automotive division, is said to be a potential candidate for Ziebart's successor.

Against the background of its lingering troubles, speculations on the future of the largest German chip manufacturer are not new, either. The latest report claims Kley suggested examining the possibility of a merger with NXP. Ziebart, however, opposes this idea since NXP has operational problems of its own. Only NXP owner KKR would benefit from such a move, the report suggests.

Contacted by EE Times Europe, Infineon declined to comment. "This is all speculation, on which we do not comment," a spokesperson said.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
EE Times Europe

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