Conspiracy alleged over Rousset wafer fab closure

March 07, 2014 // By Peter Clarke
A class action lawsuit has been filed in Federal Court in New York alleging that Atmel Corp. (San Jose, Calif.) conspired to sell its wafer fab in Rousset, France, fraudulently to LFoundry GmbH (Landshut, Germany) so that the plant could be closed and Atmel could avoid the cost of closing the fab, including making redundancy payments to workers

The wafer fab is LFoundry Rousset SAS, the French chip manufacturing site of LFoundry GmbH, which was declared bankrupt by the Commercial Court of Paris, with an immediate stop to activities on the site from Dec. 26, 2013 and the loss of 613 jobs (see LFoundry Rousset fab closes with loss of 600 jobs ).

LFoundry, an analog and mixed-signal chipmaker, bought the Rousset site from Atmel Corp. in 2010 together with a lengthy order book and Atmel as the main customer. However, when Atmel's requirement turned down in June 2013 the Commercial Court in Paris placed Lfoundry into receivership with a six-month observation period to give time to develop a continuation plan for the business. However, no significant plan to save the fab or the jobs materialized.

According to the complaint – which was filed on March 4 in district court for the southern district of New York – the work force at the fab have been, or are about to be, laid off without the benefit of a collective redundancy plan as required by French law. In addition, LFoundry Rousset has suffered more than $186 million in damages as a result of the defendants' actions.

The plaintiffs, represented by Philippe Pradal of New York law firm Pradal Associates, are Jean Yves Guerrini and the class he seeks to represent, and LFoundry Rousset. Guerrini is one of about 750 workers who were employed at the time of the transfer of the Rousset wafer fab to LFoundry on June 23, 2010 or have been employed there since.

The defendants are Atmel Corp., Atmel Rousset SAS, which was the entity that owned the fab prior to the sale, and LFoundry GmbH, which bought the fab.

Guerrini is seeking class certification, damages and a declaration that the stock purchase agreement between the alleged conspirators is void.

Pradal told eeNews Europe that he expected the case would take some months to be heard