AMD: Ruiz 'Ideal Choice' as New President, COO

SAN FRANCISCO (01/25/2000) - Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) has appointed long-time Motorola Inc. executive Hector de J. Ruiz as the company's new president and chief operating officer, the U.S. chip maker announced today.

AMD Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jerry Sanders said in a teleconference today that he will also be grooming Ruiz as his successor, and emphasized that the pair will work as complementary partners. When pressed, Sanders said they were a "good fit," with Ruiz stronger on the manufacturing, operations and engineering side, while Sanders is more at home with marketing.

"It's a great selection -- Ruiz has clearly been a star at Motorola," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with research firm Insight 64, in Saratoga, California. "He brings a lot of industry and big company experience and is highly regarded for his management and technology savvy. I'm very impressed that AMD was able to attract him."

Sanders had effectively been managing both roles -- company president and COO -- since the unexpected resignation of Atiq Raza in July last year. [See "AMD Loses Money, Key Executive," July 14, 1999.] Raza was only promoted to the AMD presidential spot two months prior to handing in his resignation. He had been seen by industry analysts as the heir apparent to Sanders.

Raza quit AMD as the company reported the largest ever financial loss in its corporate history, Sanders noted in today's teleconference which welcomed Ruiz into the AMD fold.

Sanders said he had committed to remain in the roles of acting AMD president and COO until his company returned to profitability, which it did with last week's announcement of a strong fourth financial quarter. [See "AMD Boasts a Bumper Fourth Quarter," Jan. 19.]Ruiz, who will also become a member of the AMD board of directors, was most recently president of Motorola's semiconductor products sector, responsible for the company's global chip operations, a US$7.3 billion business employing 33,000 staff, according to an AMD statement issued today.

During his time at Motorola, Ruiz proved that he was adept at "bringing new technology into high-volume markets," which is precisely AMD's aim, Sanders said.

Sanders said that Ruiz was the "ideal choice" to help AMD "successfully compete with the 800-pound gorilla in the PC semiconductor market," namely Intel Corp.

Of late, AMD and Intel have been battling to be first to market with the fastest-performing processors -- AMD with its Athlon family and Intel with its Pentium III range of chips.

On today's teleconference, Ruiz spoke of his 22 years at Motorola and described his decision to move to AMD as a "very difficult" one. However, he was particularly attracted by the "opportunity we all dream of in helping to lead a company," he said. Ruiz added that he is also keen to "fight the 8,000-pound gorilla" -- upping Sander's portrayal of Intel as a mere 800-pound opponent.

Sanders highlighted the existing relationship between AMD and Motorola, which has born fruit for both companies, particularly in relation to Motorola supplying equipment for AMD's new chip fabrication plant in Dresden, Germany.

Ruiz said that he had been extremely impressed by the way that AMD had advanced its Dresden fab. Sanders said that AMD expects to garner its first revenue from the fab in June and that the facility is "on track to ramp to capacity" by the end of next year.

Both Sanders and Ruiz agreed on AMD's main challenge going forward.

"We need to establish the procedures necessary to achieve consistent results," Ruiz said. Both men reiterated several times in today's teleconference the importance of "consistency." The chip maker has suffered badly in the past from inconsistency by not delivering its promises to customers on chip delivery times and performance.

However, that situation has changed for the better over the past year.

"It's to AMD's credit that for the past 12 months they have been incredibly consistent," analyst Brookwood said. "They've done what they said they would on schedule."

However, the company has work to do to maintain its present performance and inspire confidence, rather than have partners suggest that the company is just having a lucky break, Brookwood added.

Already, Gateway 2000 Inc. and Compaq Computer Corp. have released systems based on AMD's highest-performing 800MHz Athlon chip, and Hewlett-Packard Co. recently committed to doing the same, Sanders said.

The only major PC vendor not to sell AMD's chips alongside Intel's is Dell Computer Corp. Ultimately, Dell may have to back both horses to please performance-sensitive customers, as Intel and AMD continually outpace each other in offering the fastest processors, Brookwood said.

AMD is based in Sunnyvale, California, and can be reached at +1-408-732-2400 or on the World Wide Web at http://www.amd.com/.

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