Freescale shuts Sendai fabrication facility

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Freescale Semiconductor has announced that it will not be reopening the seriously damaged wafer fabrication facility in Sendai, Japan following the recent earthquake.

The March 11th 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan near Sendai caused extensive equipment and infrastructure damage to Freescale's facility. The ongoing safety concerns, damage to infrastructure and other basic services in the region, compounded by numerous major aftershocks, has prohibited Freescale from returning the facility to an operational level required for wafer fab production in a reasonable timeframe. The company will now move the 200mm transition to alternate facilities. "In this time of devastating loss for many of our Sendai employees, we want to do what we can to help and to return some sense of stability to their lives," said Rich Beyer, Freescale's chairman and ceo. "To that end, Freescale will compensate them through a salary continuation for an extended period of time, coupled with a comprehensive severance package." In April 2009, Freescale announced plans to close its Sendai operations in 2011. Prior to the earthquake and tsunami, the company planned to complete the closure of the facility in December 2011. The Sendai facility produces microcontrollers, analogue ICs and sensors products. In anticipation of the previously announced closure, Freescale has been building buffer inventory to support end of life products and the transfer of production from Sendai to Freescale's other fabs and outside foundry partners. This buffer inventory has been stored in other Freescale facilities and was not affected by the events in Japan. Some products produced in the Sendai facility have been qualified in other Freescale locations, while other products are in the process of being transferred. The company says it is continuing to provide ongoing assistance to impacted Sendai employees and their families. These efforts include shipments of food, water, clothing and other emergency supplies, continuous payment of salaries to all Sendai employees, and formation of the Freescale Relief Foundation.