UK power house gets switched on

UK power house gets switched on
David Manners After three years of negotiation, Ken Sanders has pulled off his management buy-out at Texas Instruments’ former discrete power semiconductor division at Bedford. The new company is called Power Innovations Ltd. Power Innovations (PI) makes high-voltage planar transistors, general purpose transistors/Darlingtons, thyristors and triacs up to 800V, 1A to 25A, and transient-over voltage protectors. PI has a 16,000 wafer (mainly four inch) a month bipolar fab in Bedford and had sales of $22m last year. Buy-out negotiations started in 1994 after a restructuring programme by TI. One of the sticking points in the negotiations was intellectual property. “We now own the key intellectual property in the processes and devices developed here,” said Sanders who becomes executive chairman of PI. One of PI’s main areas for R&D is telecoms over-voltage protection. “We’re dealing with all the big people – Nokia, Alcatel, Siemens, Lucent and the Chinese Telecommunications Development Board – we’re developing new devices, new processes and new packages for all of them,” said Sanders. “We have a considerable commitment to forward R&D,” said Sanders. Ten per cent of revenues is budgeted for R&D. One area of R&D is a double-sided planar process for reducing the die-size and decreasing the cost of over-voltage devices. While negotiations have been proceeding, the PI management has been allowed to run the operation “pretty well autonomously”, said Sanders, so the change in ownership is seamless.


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