Ams Osram is replacing its top boss in a back-to-the-future move that reunites the company with the man who used to run Osram’s optical chip business and who was deeply involved in establishing the Malaysian factory that is critical to the outfit’s future in LEDs and micro LEDs.
Premstaetten, Austria–based ams has appointed Aldo Kamper to take over as CEO from Alexander Everke at the sensor and optical chip company, effective this spring.
Everke had been CEO since 2016. He is probably best known for having led the former ams into a long and winding acquisition of Osram. When Everke launched the attempt in August 2019, Munich-based Osram was about four times ams’ size. An on-again, off-again saga ensued as ams continually arranged various means to finance the move while also facing internal opposition from some quarters at Osram as well as German and EU regulatory and competition concerns.
The EU finally approved the acquisition in July 2020, establishing the new ams Osram. To this day, the combined company is still working on integrating the entities. It has by now sold off many former Osram digital-centric and illumination businesses.
It has retained much of Osram’s substantial operations in optical chips including LEDs and lasers. Those activities fit with ams’ general mission of providing sensors and semiconductors for photonics applications.
Everke has repeatedly stated that the modern chip factory in Kulim, Malaysia is vital to the company’s future, proclaiming that an industry-leading move to 8-inch wafers there will give ams Osram a competitive edge not only in LEDs but also in the micro LEDs that will enable leaps in technology for wearable devices such as smartwatches and AR/VR gear associated with what marketeers refer to as the “metaverse.”
The factory opened in November 2017 at an expense of some $440 million, about two years before ams began its concerted effort to take over Osram. The leader of Osram’s chip business at the time — called Osram Opto Semiconductors — was none other than the now-incoming ams Osram CEO Kamper.
In an interview with LEDs Magazine at the factory opening, Kamper emphasized to LEDs Magazine that the future of LED technology was not only in illumination but also very much in digital and IoT devices and operations such as fitness watches, autonomous vehicles, driver fatigue detection, AR and VR glasses, drones, security, and much more.
To illustrate the point, Kamper — alongside then-Osram CEO Olaf Berlien and Malaysian International Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed — dispensed with the customary ribbon-cutting and instead ceremonially and literally opened the doors of the factory using infrared LED-driven eye recognition on a tablet.
“It’s a multitude of applications that’s growing,” Kamper told LEDs in 2017. “That’s the nice thing. It’s not about just one application that has to be successful. Otherwise, the factory is empty afterwards. It is about a multitude of applications that we see a high demand for.”
By August 2019, however, Kamper had departed Osram to join Germany’s Leoni AG as CEO. Leoni designs energy and data management systems for cars. Kamper had been with Opto OS for 19 years, the last 8 as CEO.
Kamper is now returning to ams Osram to pick up where he left off with LEDs, while also overseeing ams Osram’s broader businesses.
The company did not elaborate on why Everke is leaving or on the exact timing of his departure.
“Alexander Everke will actively support the transfer of his responsibilities and remain in an advisory role to the company until year-end 2023,” ams Osram said in a press release. “Further details of the handover, which is expected to be implemented during spring 2023, are still in discussion.”
Everke did not reveal what his next move might be.
“Two years after operationally completing the acquisition of Osram the integration of both businesses into one company has reached an advanced stage,” he said in the release. “Ams Osram is strongly positioned for the future as a highly innovative semiconductor player with an attractive portfolio and excellent market position. This is the point in time for me to hand over leadership of the company to a successor and pursue other endeavors.”
Ams Osram reports its fourth quarter and year-end 2022 financial results tomorrow.
Another former Osram executive, Ingo Bank, had previously joined ams Osram as chief financial officer and, eventually, as head of the Osram group. But Bank is departing at the end of April.
MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).
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