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(Image courtesy of Infineon).

Cree Fills Chief Executive Role Following Wolfspeed Debacle

In May, Cree said that it was seeking a replacement for its chief executive Chuck Swoboda. On Monday, the company said that it hired Gregg Lowe, the former chief executive of Freescale and former vice president of Texas Instruments' analog business.

“Gregg is an exceptional leader and a proven visionary in the semiconductor industry,” said Robert Ingram, Cree's chairman, in a statement. Swoboda had been chief executive for 16 years, but he resigned after going through what he called a recent "medical issue."

Lowe's hiring comes in the aftermath of a major regulatory disappointment for Cree, which is based in Durham, North Carolina. Last year, it agreed to sell its Wolfspeed business, which makes power electronics as well as radio frequency chips used in satellite communications and missile defense radar.

Infineon said that it would pay $850 million for the business, but the deal crumbled under the scrutiny of American regulators, who have grown suspicious of foreign semiconductor deals. Lacking regulatory approval, Cree scuttled the deal and reintegrated the business unit in February.

Cree subsequently removed Wolfspeed's chief executive officer, Frank Plastina. He had been hired to prepare the business unit for an initial public offering, which was abandoned after Infineon's offer came through. Cengiz Balkas, who would have been Wolfspeed's chief operating officer, has since been in charge. 

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