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Infineon Cleans House

The chipmaker boots its financial chief and vows to cut its stake in former unit Qimonda.


Infineon Technologies


is washing it hands of various undesirable elements.

The German chipmaker promised Monday to reduce its majority stake in memory-chip maker



within the next two years, and in a separate announcement it said that it has booted its finance chief because of "irreconcilable differences."

The company did not elaborate on the disagreement that prompted its supervisory board to immediately terminate the contract of Rüdiger Günther, a mere three months after he took the job of chief financial officer and labor director.

A spokeswoman said she could not comment on whether the differences were related to business issues or were of a personal nature.

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Günther joined Infineon's management board in April and was appointed CFO in May, succeeding Peter Fischl, who retired that month. Infineon said Monday that Fischl will return to the finance role temporarily.

Shares of Infineon were off 23 cents, or 1.4%, at $15.68 in midday trading Monday.

Infineon also moved ahead with plans to unload the volatile DRAM memory business, Qimonda, from its books. Infineon

spun off its memory business in 2006, in order to focus on providing analog and mixed-signal logic chips to the automotive, industrial and communications markets. But Infineon still has an 86% stake in Qimonda.

That stake has been a drag Infineon's financial results, as DRAM prices have fallen through the floor.

Last month, Infineon reported a loss before interest and taxes of 280 million euros (about $385.8 million). Excluding Qimonda, Infineon said it would have reported a positive EBIT of 13 million euros.

"Carving-out and listing our memory business last year effectively created two focused companies, each with a well-defined strategy and clear prospects," Infineon CEO Wolfgang Ziebart said in a statement.

"With today's decision, we are gaining another option to reduce our stake and are increasing the flexibility regarding the speed of the reduction," Ziebart said.

Infineon said it would reduce its stake to "significantly" below 50% no later than its 2009 annual shareholder meeting. A date for that meeting has not yet been chosen, according to the spokeswoman.

Infineon said it will continue to reduce its Qimonda stake through secondary offerings and other capital market measures, with any cash inflow from such sales going toward acquisitions or buybacks of Infineon shares.

Qimonda's stock was down 4.7%, or 68 cents, at $13.60 in midday trading.