Rousset closure unavoidable, says LFoundry
However, LFoundry said it will continue to operate through its manufacturing site in Avezzano, Italy and plans to bring up analog and mixed-signal manufacturing processes at that site in 2014.
The closure of Rousset – with a loss of 613 jobs – was announced when the Commercial Court in Paris declared the French company operating the site was bankrupt and ordered immediate closure just before Christmas and with effect from December 26 (see LFoundry Rousset closes with loss of 600 jobs).
"We deeply regret the recent development in Rousset," said Michael Hoesl, vice president of sales and marketing at LFoundry GmbH, in email correspondence with eeNews Europe. He added: "The complete retreat of the former fab owner didn’t allow the Rousset management to meet their proposed business plan and strategy, even if strongly supported by LFoundry GmbH."
LFoundry completed the acquisition of the Rousset fab from previous owner Atmel Corp. (San Jose, Calif.) in June 2010. As part of the deal, LFoundry entered into a long-term supply agreement with Atmel. At the time that agreement was described as being for "approximately four years." Atmel ended its orders in mid-2013, after three years.
In response to questions about whether LFoundry’s operations continue Hoesl said in email: "The situation in Rousset has no direct impact to LFoundry’s site in Avezzano. The operation in Avezzano is secured and independent from Rousset."
Hoesl added: "The Avezzano Fab is a development and production site for image sensors since 2006. Today this segment is still the main revenue driver. Since the acquisition of the former Micron Fab the implementation of several further technologies have been initiated for different target markets with first revenue contribution in 2014. This diversification will continue as there is a clear strategic target defined and this is to transfer Avezzano from a pure image sensor fab into an analog, mixed signal and specialized technology foundry."
The French government has ordered that the Rousset site be maintained for three months to give time to try and obtain a buyer but unions and workers are concerned that this will only preserve the site for industrial activity rather than as a working wafer fab.
Former workers at Rousset have been vociferous about the need to save the wafer fab at Rousset. A petition put online at www.change.org has received 6,000 signatures. The workers argue: "Our site needs €35 million to take up the industrialization of new products for which we already have customers. Our government has chosen to spend €80 million to close the site. It shows a real ignorance of this issue."
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