AMD Says New CEO Misquoted On Fab Sell-Off

Dirk Meyer took over for Hector Ruiz chip

In a story by the Austin American-Statesman published July 18, Meyer is reported to have said AMD "is just months away from a major restructuring that will spin the manufacturing operations off into a separate company, with new ownership."

AMD is officially headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., but maintains its largest base of operations in Austin, Texas, and a good deal of corporate news emerges first in the local newspaper.

The sentence about AMD's "major restructuring," paraphrased by the American-Statesman reporter rather than directly quoted, was seized upon by the business and technology media as the most direct statement to date about AMD's long-discussed but detail-starved plans for going "asset light" with regards to its expensive silicon fabrication operations.

The only problem? Meyer never said that, according to AMD.

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"What Dirk said is that we planned to transform how we manufacture wafers, but we haven't gone in to any details about what the specifics of the 'asset smart' strategy are going to entail," said Drew Prairie, an AMD investor relations spokesperson Thursday.

In a more recent version of the American-Statesman story, the part about AMD plans to "spin off its manufacturing operations into a separate company, with new ownership" is attributed to analyst opinion, rather than Meyer. The new CEO is still reported as saying he "hopes AMD is just months away from a major restructuring."

Contacted by ChannelWeb in an e-mail to clarify the change, American-Statesman reporter Kirk Ladendorf wrote back: "My editor agrees that we need to do a separate story on the subject in the next few days in which I hope to quote pretty much everything Dirk Meyer had to say on the subject during the interview. So you'll have to wait 'til that runs."

Ruiz first tossed out the phrase "asset light" in a call with analysts in early 2007. It has since evolved into the "asset smart" strategy in the lexicon of AMD public statements. AMD said in its most recent earnings call that it is selling off its consumer electronics division, a lightening of its assets to be sure, but "asset light" or "asset smart" has long been understood to refer specifically to the company's enormously capital-intensive silicon fabrication operations. Whether the strategy involves selling fabs outright or streamlining operations is some other way is a subject of much debate in the financial and technology media.

AMD is one of just two volume manufacturers of microprocessors for PCs and servers that owns and operates its own fabrication plants. Market leader Intel is the other.