The next boss of ASML, European semiconductor champion, will be French

Published on Nov 30, 2023 at 5:53 p.m.Updated Nov. 30, 2023 at 6:06 p.m.

One of the most important companies in the tech world will be led by Frenchman Christophe Fouquet next spring. Subject to agreement by the board of directors, he will succeed Peter Wennink at the head of ASML, the boss under whose reign the Dutch equipment manufacturer transformed itself into an essential cog in the manufacturing of electronic chips. Over this ten-year period, the stock market value of the supplier to TSMC and Samsung jumped by… 930%!

After starting his career in other companies in the semiconductor sector such as Applied Materials or KLA-Tencor, Christophe Fouquet got to know ASML well, one of the rare global successes of European tech, what’s more in the world of semiconductors where the European sector is trying to catch up. Joining the company in 2011 and then becoming a member of the board of directors, for five years he had been in charge of the most strategic division, that of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithographic machines.

A smooth succession

Without these devices weighing several tons, it is impossible to engrave the most efficient processors, those which have been equipping the most powerful smartphones and computers for several years, without forgetting the computer servers of artificial intelligence. Sold for $150 million per unit, these manufacturing machines on which ASML holds a de facto monopoly are the source of a third of the turnover of the company and its 42,000 employees.

The issue of continuity was therefore important for this giant of the European stock market (251 billion euros in market capitalization). For observers, the Frenchman’s appointment is not a surprise. “This succession is the least disruptive and the smoothest that the market could have anticipated,” summarizes Citigroup analyst Andrew Gardiner in a note.

An imminent launch

In these previous positions, Christophe Fouquet especially came up against the challenges arising from ASML’s domination of a market strongly shaken up by geopolitical considerations in recent years. Pushed by the United States in the midst of a technological war with China, Over the years, the Netherlands has expanded the list of ASML machines banned from export for reasons of “national security”.

While China, where many of ASML’s clients produce, accounts for almost half of ASML’s revenues, Peter Wennink has spoken out in recent months against these obstacles to international trade. Questioned on the occasion of his appointment by the Financial Times, Christophe Fouquet reiterated what has long been the official position of the company: “it is not our role to decide what is good and what is bad. “.

Despite this context, the Frenchman took charge shortly before an important launch for the group. ASML must unveil its new generation of machines, called High-NA EUV, by the end of the year. Sold between 300 and 350 million dollars according to the indicative price mentioned by the company last year, this technology should help the group to double its revenues by 2030.

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