HONG KONG--It was a tough year for CEOs in the semiconductor industry in 2003. Almost twice as many semiconductor executives resigned in 2003, as compared with 2002, according to a survey by a publishing company.
In 2003, some 40 CEOs in the industry resigned, retired, or were fired from semiconductor companies, according to Who's Who in Semiconductors. Published by The Lightpoint Group Ltd. of Hong Kong, Who's Who in Semiconductors is an annual directory featuring biographical details of leading and influential individuals in the global semiconductor industry.
For a table of the 2003 CEO changes (and a list of 2002 changes), use this link
Meanwhile, in December of 2003 alone, five chip-related companies changed their CEOs: Logic Vision, Arc International, Chip Express, TransEDA, and DPAC Technologies. The 2003 total compares with 22 semiconductor CEO departures for the whole of 2002, according to the firm.
Resignations this year included the following leaders: Henry Nicholas of Broadcom Corp., who stepped down in January following heavy financial losses at the fabless chipmaker he founded in 1991; Bob Helms, who resigned from International Sematech; and Young K. Sohn, who left Oak Technology Inc. after it was acquired by Zoran Corp. and became head of Agilent Technologies Inc.'s chip business in August.
Tough competition in the wafer foundry business took a toll, with the co-CEOs of Israel's Tower Semiconductor Inc., Yoav Nissan-Cohen and Rafi Levin, resigning effective June, and Cyril Hannon leaving Silterra Malaysia, also in June. United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) also changed its CEO in July, from John Hsuan to Jackson Hu.
Two CEOs left office amid investigations into financial misconduct. Douglas J. Bartek resigned as chairman and CEO of Microtune Corp. in June, a month before an audit committee investigation reported that the company had "engaged in fraudulent accounting and financial reporting practices". James Dooley, CEO of Electro Scientific Industries, was placed on administrative leave in April, and then terminated in June pending further investigation into the company's financial results for the first and second quarters of fiscal 2003.
This year also saw several CEOs announce their retirement. On the IDM side, Fred Shlapak of Motorola Inc.'s semiconductor unit announced he was retiring after 33 years with the company. In the chip equipment sector, James Morgan stepped down in April after 26 years as CEO of Applied Materials, though he continues to serve as chairman.
Morgan's counterpart at rival Tokyo Electron Ltd., Tetsuro Higashi, announced his retirement as CEO a month before Morgan -- although Higashi's didn't take effect until June. Higashi was named chairman.