Welcome To The Worst Job In The Semi Industry
Say what you like about the private equity company Blackstone, and I don’t usually have a good word for them, I have to concede they’re good pickers.
They picked Rich Beyer to be CEO of Freescale in 2008 and now they’ve picked Gregg Lowe to succeed him. Both excellent men.
Pity Blackstone aren’t as smart at buying semiconductor companies as they are at choosing people to run them.
When Blackstone bought Freescale in 2006 they valued the company at an absurd $17.6 billion and they then proceeded to put $10 billion of debt on Freescale’s balance sheet to help defray the cost of the purchase.
Beyer had to deal with the almost impossible task of keeping Freescale going while having to find $750m a year just to service the debt. $750 million is a huge amount to find from Freescale’s annual revenues of $4 billion
On top of the annual $750 million, he had to find ways to repay, or re-negotiate repayments, of the debt capital as it fell due. Beyer paid down $3 billion of the debt and reduced annual interest payments to $500 million. Freescale IPO’d last May and all the proceeds went to paying down debt.
Gregg Lowe oversaw the integration of National Semiconductor into TI’s organisation after the take-over, and the rapid expansion of TI’s fab stable in acquiring substantial new capacity at knock-down prices during the credit crunch.
He joined TI’s field sales organisation in 1984, with responsibility for growing the company’s business with automobile manufacturers. In 1990, he moved to Germany to lead the European automotive sales force, managing teams and customer relationships in France, Germany, Italy, England and Spain.
In 1994, he returned to the US to manage TI’s microcontroller organisation. Later, he led the ASIC business.
In 2001, he moved to the analogue business to manage high speed communications and controls and, later on, the high performance analogue business unit.