Monday, January 24, 2022

"How France's Largest Semiconductor Company Got Nationalized in Plain Sight"

From Fabricated Knowledge:

A power struggle was actually China encroaching on France's Largest Company. [?] France decided to nationalize instead. 

TLDR: China owned a 10.93% stake in Soitec and could have pushed to control it, but instead France just nationalized the company. In a series of power plays, the French board installed a CEO who best reflected National Interests. Management got blindsided. 

Soitec is a semiconductor materials company known for its smart cut and Silicon on Insulator (SOI) technologies, which are critical in 5G, Silicon Photonics, and Silicon Carbide (EV) end-markets.

Yesterday, they announced that current CEO Paul Boudre will retire and be replaced by Pierre Barnabé in July of 2022. Barnabé is currently an SVP at Atos, a French IT consulting company. This seemingly routine CEO transition sank company shares by over 15%. It’s not what it seems. 

First, the entire existing management team is opposed. The management team sent a letter to the board that does not mince words. Translated to English, it reads:

Soitec's Management Committee deplores the takeover of Soitec by the Chairman of the Board of Directors for 3 years, which culminates today with the incomprehensible appointment of a new CEO.

What exactly is happening at Soitec? Well first let’s just start with the current story of the now outgoing CEO, Paul Boudre.

The Story of Soitec (and Paul Boudre)

Soitec, like most firms, was no overnight success. This timeline of the companies history is the best place to start. Soitec originally pursued other markets but failed to gain traction. In 2015, the company Soitec shuttered its solar business as part of a hard pivot away from its existing failures....


I'm pretty sure Total is France's largest company by revenues and LVMH is the largest by market cap.

HT: FT Alphaville's Further Reading post which went with the teaser:

How France’s largest semiconductor company got stolen in plain sight