Electronica: NXP and Freescale CEOs defend role of private equity

The CEOs of NXP and Freescale defended the record of private equity companies in the semiconductor industry at the Electronica Forum CEO Round table in Munich this morning.

EW asked the panel if the fact that NXP and Freescale hadn’t grown since they were acquired by private equity in 2006 showed that the private equity model was a bad one for the semiconductor industry.

Rick Clemmer, CEO of NXP, pointed out: “Our Q3 was up 9% sequentially and 12% year on year.”

In fact NXP’s Q3 2012 revenue at $1.11 was down on its Q3 in 2006, the year it was bought by private equity company KKR of New York.

In 2006, NXP had revenues just short of $5bn. Ever since, the quarterly revenues have run at slightly less than 2006 – $1.06 bn in Q4 2009; $1.08bn in Q4 2010; $1.12bn in Q2 2011 and $1.11bn in Q3 2012.

So the company hasn’t grown at all in six years of being owned by private equity.

Gregg Lowe, CEO of Freescale, which also hasn’t grown since being acquired by Blackstone in 2006 while being congenitally loss-making, pointed out that one of the benefits private equity brings to the semiconductor industry is focus – focusing on doing things which the company is good at.

Recently Freescale announced it it would take a $35-40m charge to sack more employees. The number of jobs to be lost would be not more than 5% of the total workforce said Lowe.

NXP and Freescale which were top ten companies in 2006 when private equity acquired them, have now sunk to No. 17 and 19 respectively in the world rankings, according to IC Insights.

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