MUNICH, Germany — In the traditional CEO panel on the opening day of the Electronica exhibition here, the participants were unanimous that the semiconductor industry handled the economic crisis of 2008-2009 well, and that the industry is now set fair for return to "normal" growth.
Nonetheless, the crisis did have a major impact on the chip industry, which now sees Infineon Technologies AG and NXP considerably smaller than they were two years ago as a result of restructuring.
Peter Bauer, CEO of Infineon, described the immediate sales impact as being a "shock-freeze of demand" which just stopped the supply chain in its tracks but did not reflect underlying end-user demand. "That's why the market went away very abruptly and came back very abruptly. But the demand remained. The mobile phone market survived quite well," said Bauer.
Henri Richard, senior vice president of global sales and marketing at Freescale Semiconductor Inc., was standing in for his absent CEO, Rich Beyer. Richard said the chip industry had clearly learned one important lesson: "Never waste a good crisis. We went back to basics and made some changes and have emerged stronger."
Carlo Bozotti, CEO of STMicroelectronics, and Rick Clemmer, CEO of NXP Semiconductors BV parried with statistics on how quickly markets had gone away in 2008 and 2009 – markets dropping 40 percent in two quarters and the automotive market being 50 percent down on a year before in Q1 2009. Such things are impossible to predict and mean that the semiconductor industry must be flexible and quick to react, they said.
From left to right: Peter Bauer, CEO of Infineon; Henri Richard, senior vice president of global sales and marketing for Freescale; Carlo Bozotti, CEO of STMicroelectronics, Rick Clemmer, CEO of NXP; Kilian Reichert, moderator of the Electronica 2010 CEO panel.