Maxine Fassberg ousted as Intel Israel chief

Fassberg will be responsible for obtaining Israeli government grants, working under new general manager Mooly Eden.

The executive changes that Intel Corporation (Nasdaq: INTC) announced ten days ago, including the appointment of VP Mooly Eden as general manager of Israel, took the top management at Intel Israel by surprise. Intel Israel's current general manager Maxine Fassberg, will be subordinate to Eden as manager of Intel Israel's manufacturing operations.

Sources inform ''Globes'' that Fassberg learned of the news from Intel chief product officer Dadi Perlmutter, who was appointed to this new post as part of the same personnel changes. Perlmutter is the top Israeli at Intel's headquarters.

On the face of it, Fassberg was ousted, but that is not how Intel is describing it. She will likely stay on at the company for the time being, and her duties in her new position will include relations with the Israeli government. She will deal with the huge grants that Intel is due to receive to expand its production capacity in Israel.

Eden, who is returning to Israel, managed Intel Israel's Haifa R&D center a decade ago.

Intel said in response, "The executive changes are a normal and routine matter at Intel, and are part of its corporate culture. Mooly's return to Israel strengthens Intel Israel, and enables it to enter new fields."

Fassberg said, "I believe that it is of paramount importance to continue Intel's investments in Israel, and I will continue to lead this matter at Intel and the talks with the government on the issue."

Fassberg was appointed Intel Israel general manager in 2007, succeeding Alex Kornhauser, who went to work for Intel spin-off Numonyx, which was acquired by Micron Technology Inc. (NYSE: MU) for $1.27 billion in 2009.

Opinions regarding Fassberg are divided. Some people say that she has a strong track record of achievement, and that Intel has benefited from her work. Other opinions are less flattering about Intel Israel's performance under her stewardship. Intel Israel's operations include two fabs: Fab 28 at Kiryat Gat, one of the company's most advanced fabs in the world; and a new fab in Jerusalem, which is engaged in packaging.

Fassberg manages Israel's largest high-tech company. She is directly responsible for 3,500 employees, half of Intel Israel's 7,000-man workforce, including at the Haifa R&D center, and she is responsible for a multibillion-dollar budget.

Fassberg has received extensive coverage as the point-woman in Intel's effort to persuade the Israeli government to subsidize its investments in new fabs. Her job includes relations with the Knesset, and her relationship with Israeli politics has prompted rumors that she wants to enter them.

A step down for Eden to the provinces

Eden reportedly received the Israel posting, after telling Intel that he wanted to return to the country. However strategically important Intel Israel is for Intel, in his previous job, Eden was responsible for 70% of Intel's total revenue, leaving the impression that the appointment of such a senior executive to the province of Israel is a step down. This impression is reinforced in view of Intel's critical situation.

The company has to position itself in several growth markets, including mobile devices, where Eden definitely has something to contribute.

It should be noted, however, that Intel's CEOs of the past decade - Craig Barrett and Paul Otellini - were not focused on the technology side of the company, but on its operations. It is therefore possible that Eden's expanded responsibilities will serve him as a springboard for a more senior position in the future.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 29, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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