Report: AMD will split into separate companies

Company representative, however, says new CEO was misquoted. But the <i>Statesman</i> comment isn't necessarily inaccurate, says CNET Blog Network's Brooke Crothers.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
3 min read

Update on July 24, 5:50 p.m. PDT with additional information and corrections.

UPDATE: According to Kirk Ladendorf, the author of The Austin American-Statesman article, the Statesman will issue an update, likely sometime during the week of July 28. In short, it appears that AMD's contention that Dirk Meyer was misquoted is true.

Advanced Micro Devices will split into separate companies as it spins off its manufacturing operations, according to a report.

The Austin American-Statesman had one of the most unambiguous statements to date when it interviewed AMD's new CEO, Dirk Meyer, last week: "Meyer says the company is just months away from a major restructuring that will spin the manufacturing operations off into a separate company, with new ownership," the report said.

AMD spokesperson Drew Prairie says Meyer was misquoted, but did not give details on the company's future plans. He did say that "it's fundamentally important to AMD to transform how we manufacture our wafers."

One thing is clear: AMD has been laboring for months over the details of the restructuring. "We have made enormous progress. Certainly have an incredibly high level of expectation we will be able to do that before the end of the year," said AMD chairman Hector Ruiz--who stepped down as CEO last week--during the second quarter earnings conference call on July 17.

What may happen before the end of the year is a partial reorganization of the company rather than a clean spin-off of all manufacturing assets. But the basic import of the Statesman comment isn't necessarily inaccurate. AMD Chief Financial Officer Bob Rivet said during AMD's second-quarter earnings conference call that Asset Smart "will be a major reformation of the company." Asset Smart is AMD's terminology for the restructuring of its manufacturing operations.

"Part of the reason for the timing of the CEO transition...(is) we're just about at the goal line on Asset Smart," Prairie said. "It's at a point where it requires 100 percent of Hector's time and focus to see it through."

One of the biggest pieces of news that emerged from AMD's earnings announcement last week was that Meyer would become CEO and Ruiz would remain as chairman to oversee AMD's transition to Asset Smart. This arrangement has led to speculation that AMD would spin off the manufacturing part of the business. The question seems to be: How much of this would AMD retain?

AMD already has an Asset Smart relationship with IBM, Prairie said. "We have a very good relationship with IBM on the process technology side. That's one of the examples we have held out where we have gone Asset Smart in the past. Not having to have a 300 millimeter test facility on our books because we use their facilities."

However, Ashok Kumar, senior vice president at CRT Capital Group, said that one of the likeliest partners for AMD when it restructures manufacturing operations is Singapore-based Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which currently makes AMD's graphics processors, has also been cited as possibly playing a role in AMD's restructuring.