IMF aid could kill Micron, CEO says
Memory market future unclear
January 19, 1998
S. Korean DRAM battle heats up
August 18, 1997
Micron Technology (MU) CEO Steve Appleton will say to Congress that unconditional International Monetary Fund (IMF) aid for South Korea could put his semiconductor company out of business.
Appleton will tell the House Banking committee that heavily indebted South Korean memory chip manufacturers have flooded the market with below-cost goods, grabbing share at Micron's expense. The committee is hearing testimony about increased U.S. contributions to the IMF.
"Non-commercial" bank loans have financed their loss-making expansion, and IMF monies that shore up cash-strapped Korean banks will insulate the banks from risky practices while penalizing U.S. companies unable to obtain such credit, according to the CEO.
"If the US participates in furthering the IMF bailout, Korea must be held accountable for the use of these funds. Left unchecked, we may lose the last remaining U.S. merchant producer making DRAMs in this country," Appleton said in a prepared statement echoing the call for mandatory banking reform to accompany Korean relief.
DRAMs, or dynamic random access memory chips, fell precipitously throughout 1996 and 1997 because of oversupply. Last December, they were hovering just above $2, well below the $4 cost of manufacture, according to International Data Corporation....
I had the great pleasure of working for Micron in the San Jose Design Center, and worked with Steve on his many visits to the Bay Area. My sincerest condolences to his friends and family. He was a great leader. He will be missed.
Just a sad story. Say what you will about Appleton, I always respected the fact that he landed a job at Micron after college and pretty quickly worked his way up to the top job. And I also respected the fact that he refused to take his bonus in at least some years when Micron did poorly (that seems kind of like common sense, but from what I understand that's pretty rare). To die at 51 is just a damn shame.
Steve Appleton was a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I guess he died doing what he loved to do. The Micron board was not happy about him flying, but he really didn't care. I believe this will likely result in significant changes at Micron. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future.