eeNews: And what about ST-Ericsson?
Carlo Bozotti: Given the information I had at the time, I would redo what I did on wireless.
We had Nokia and Sony-Ericsson spending $2.7 billion per year with us. We had the partnership with Ericsson and its intellectual property. The sudden collapse of the mobile phone industry in Europe was unprecedented, and it is really a pity for Europe.
eeNews: The formation of the ST-Ericsson joint venture including wireless capabilities of NXP Semiconductors; were you being told to do this by your customers?
Carlo Bozotti: There was very strong coordination. There was encouragement to become bigger and compete globally. This I would repeat, but application processors for consumer STB we should have stopped earlier.
eeNews: Was the European Commission pushing for the formation of the joint-venture?
Carlo Bozotti: Not really. It was coming more from the customers.
eeNews: Were you surprised at how long it took ST to recover from the joint-venture?
Carlo Bozotti: Well, ST-Ericsson was founded on February 3, 2009 and the decision to end it was taken at the end of 2012. After that ST had three difficult years but the company's capital structure was never at risk. We also set about a massive redeployment of 2,500 engineers – into microcontrollers, into sensors, into digital automotive, into digital ASICs. So in 2016, 2017 and 2018 we are back.
eeNews: Was there a problem with key account strategy in the sense that things are good when key accounts are doing well but when there are only a few key accounts and a couple hit the wall so does their supplier?
Carlo Bozotti: You must remember that with Nokia we had 15 good years. Now we have distribution as an important part of our sales. We now ship a billion pieces of STM32 MCUs per year. In 2007 ST was ranked number 12 in MCUs and in 2017 we were number two in MCUs worldwide for general purpose and secure applications. This makes the difference since MCUs are at the heart of a vast number of application for our distribution customers.
Now it is important to keep a balance.
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