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Bauer: Asia will drive Infineon growth in 2010

Posted: 23 Nov 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Infineon growth? automotive? power electronics?

Having returned to profitability in Q4, Infineon Technologies AG details how it hopes to remain profitable in the mid-term. Basically, growth will come from Asia, and acquisitions cannot be ruled out, according to Infineon CEO Peter Bauer.

For 2010, Infineon regards an overall semiconductor market growth of 14 percent (calculated on a euro basis) as realistic. The company itself has a more conservative target; it predicts to grow by "at least 10 percent."

In an interview with EE Times Infineon CEO Peter Bauer said he currently sees short-term restocking orders as well as fundamental growth. In the automotive industry which accounts for about 28 percent of the company's sales, the demand will increase as a consequence of the automotive industry recovery, Bauer said. In the global industrial automation and power electronics markets the situation is similar. "Our quick recovery was triggered by restocking effects; our double-digit growth guidance is based on fundamental growth," he explained.

In terms of geographies, Europe, and in particular Germany, will remain a difficult market. Asia with its powerhouses China and India will drive the growth, Bauer said. "Asia will more than compensate the weakness in Germany," he added.

The same holds true for the wireless business, with a revenue share of 31 percent Infineon's largest division. Demand for the company's ultralow-cost handset platform is centered in Asia, albeit a large percentage of the devices is sold to Nokia, which in turn serves the Asian markets. In addition, the company already has four key costumers for its HSUPA platform, with three of them headquartered in Asia. Bauer said these customers are Samsung, LG and Panasonic"and about the fourth we do not talk," leaving open the question if this might be Apple to which Infineon already sells the smart

phone chip for its iPhone.

With the biggest part of the proceeds of its recently-sold wireline business already on its bank account and a strong positive cash-flow re-established, sustainable and continuous profitability improvements are now the company's main goal. However, Bauer also did not want to rule out any acquisitions to complete its product or technology portfolio, but currently the company has no hot plans towards this end. "I don't rule out acquisitions but they must have a positive influence on our profitability," he said.

By the same token, the company currently has no plans to sell or spin off any of its remaining activities, with the exception of Altis Semiconductor, a joint venture of Infineon and IBM. Sales negotiations for Altis are under way and closure can be expected soon, Bauer explained. Otherwise, "we feel very well within our current market and product portfolio", he said.

The bullish Asian markets will direct Infineon's future investments into this region. Infineon chief executive VP Reinhard Ploss announced to expand the company's power semiconductor production line in Kulim (Malaysia). For its European plans, the company has no expansion plans.

While the main wave of job cuts is over, Bauer did not rule out further staff reductions, albeit at a much smaller scale. "In order to maintain our cost quota after the sale of our wireline business, we need to very selectively reduce jobs. But definitively there is no large job-cutting program in place," he assured.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
EE Times

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