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11 January 2013

GT completes restructuring with streamlining of operations and new functional structure

GT Advanced Technologies Inc of Nashua, NH, USA (a provider of polysilicon production technology as well as sapphire and silicon crystalline growth systems and materials for the solar, LED and other specialty markets) says that it is transitioning to a functional organizational structure from its prior business unit organization as it continues to streamline operations and position the company for growth once the markets it serves start to recover (as announced last November).

Under the new structure, sales, service and worldwide operations will be centralized under the leadership of Dan Squiller, who will continue to report to president & CEO Tom Gutierrez. Dave Keck, formerly general manager, polysilicon and photovoltaic equipment, will lead sales and service across all businesses, reporting to Squiller. Jeff Ford, VP of DSS business development, will continue to have responsibility for GT’s DSS (Directional Solidification System) business, leveraging his industry knowledge and experience to ensure that GT continues to support its DSS customer base as the firm transitions to next-generation photovoltaic (PV) technologies.

The firm’s R&D initiatives in next-generation solar, Hyperion ion implant exfoliation and sapphire will be managed under Dr Vikram Singh, executive VP, Advanced Systems Development. In addition, Singh remains responsible for all central engineering support services as well as business development and product management for the Hyperion and next-generation solar platforms. Chief technology officer Dr P.S. Raghavan will continue to lead technology development for silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) applications. As a result of the functional realignment, the business unit general manager positions have been eliminated and Cheryl Diuguid (formerly general manager of the sapphire business) has left the company.

As previously indicated, the firm is scaling back its merger & acquisition (M&A) program in 2013. Hence, the role of chief strategy and new business officer is being eliminated and David Gray Ph.D. will leave the firm effective 25 January. CEO Tom Gutierrez will drive strategic development initiatives.

“The new functional structure reflects GT’s continued efforts to streamline our operations and align our business with current market and business conditions,” says Gutierrez. “It further minimizes duplication of resources and provides us with a very efficient platform to grow from in 2013,” he adds.

As part of the reorganization of resources, the firm is shifting final development and beta build activities for its HiCz (continuously fed Czochralski growth) product to its facility in Merrimack, NH, and will be idling its HiCz materials pilot manufacturing facility in St. Louis, MO. As a result, the firm will layoff about 35 employees in St. Louis. These employees will be provided severance pay, health and dental benefits and outplacement services.

GT says that it remains committed to the commercialization of the HiCz platform, a next-generation PV furnace that will produce N-type silicon wafers to help make more efficient solar cells. It expects to be ready to offer the HiCz product by mid-2013 but, given current market conditions in the PV industry, orders for the new-generation systems may not occur until 2014 when the industry begins to recover. Several HiCz pullers are already installed and operating in Merrimack, where most of the HiCz R&D team is based.

GT is seeking a strategic partner to purchase the St. Louis operation. The 67,000 square foot leased facility currently has HiCz tools installed, representing a capacity of 50MW/~250MT output/~12.5 million wafers per year. The facility is designed to support twice as many tools as are currently installed.

The firm estimates that the idling of the St. Louis facility will reduce its annualized expenses by about $15m (excluding restructuring charges). The savings related to this action were anticipated and reflected in the 2013 guidance range provided on 18 December. In addition, GT expects to incur restructuring and non-cash asset impairment charges in Q4/2012 and in 2013 related to this action. The firm is evaluating the timing and amounts of the charges and expects to provide further details on these when it reports 2012 earnings results in February.

See related items:

GT streamlines operations, including 25% staff cut

GT expect revenue down 10% in Q4/2012, and 23% below guidance for full year

Tags: GT Sapphire furnace


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