News Article

In Brief: ST Systems, Vitesse Execs, SemiSouth

ST Systems sees a sharp increase in orders but is hit by the weak US dollar, three Vitesse executives are fired as the SEC steps up its investigation into the timing of stock option awards, and SemiSouth celebrates five years of SiC development.

STS happy with orders
Nigel Randall, the chairman of plasma processing equipment vendor Surface Technology Systems, told the company's annual general meeting on May 23 that shipments and orders for 2006 are well up on the prior year.

At the end of April, shipments and orders for delivery totalled more than £15 million ($28.2 Million), Randall said. Last year, the figure was just £8 million.

While the company's new Pegasus system, which can be used for deep reactive ion etch applications, is said to be generating lots of interest, the weakness of the US dollar is hurting the Newport, UK, company.

As a result, the company's first-half results are likely to below previous expectations, and investors saw the stock price tumble sharply after Randall's update.

Vitesse execs get boot
The three Vitesse Semiconductor executives that were suspended from their roles last month pending an investigation into the timing of stock options have been fired.

CEO Louis Tomasetta, CFO Yatin Mody and executive VP Eugene Hovanec were shown the door as Vitesse announced that it was expanding its internal investigation beyond stock options to review the company's revenue recognition policies.

In addition, Vitesse says that it has defaulted on the terms of a loan agreed with the Silicon Valley Bank.

All of which adds up to a baptism of fire for new CEO Chris Gardner, the 20-year company veteran who now takes the helm. Vitesse, which pioneered GaAs manufacturing on 6-inch wafers as far back as 1998, now focuses on silicon and InP processes.

According to widespread reports, the Securities and Exchange Commission is stepping up its investigation into the timing of stock option awards at a number of Silicon Valley firms.

SemiSouth eyes expansion
SiC material and device developer SemiSouth has celebrated five years in business by revealing plans for a five-fold increase in employees.

"Today, the company has 45 employees," said CEO and co-founder Jeff Casady. "We are recruiting professional talent and within five years we hope to employ as many as 250 people worldwide."

SemiSouth's SiC fab in Mississippi is scheduled for completion this summer, just over five years since the company was spun out of Mississippi State University by Casady and Mike Mazzola.

SiC power devices made by SemiSouth show promise for use in hybrid electric vehicles, where they are able to increase overall fuel efficiency (see related story).

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