IQE parts with two senior directors

The struggling microchip maker IQE is parting company with two of its senior directors as part of a restructuring prompted by spiralling losses.

Richard Clarke, the chief financial officer, and Scott Massie, the president of its US business, will resign at the end of this month. The move comes two days after the Welsh company saw more than a third wiped off its value as it plunged to a £58.1m half-year loss.

The company, which warned on Wednesday that the semiconductor marketplace continued to be "extremely challenging", described the resignations as "amicable".

A spokeswoman said: "Richard wasn't sacked, he just left because of the restructuring." She added that Mr Clarke, who received a remuneration package worth £105,000 last year, had found the one-and-a-half hour commute from his home in Cheltenham to IQE's Cardiff offices, "quite a slog". She would not comment on whether the two men would receive a pay off.

Analysts said that Mr Clarke had paid the price for not positioning the company better to cope with the downturn in the hi-tech sector.

Ulrich Pelzer, at Lehman Brothers, said the move was "a marginal positive [as] new people tend to have different ideas and different ways of tackling problems". But he added: "Even the best finance director cannot increase market demand."

IQE said Tim Hawkes, who joined the company in March as corporate development director, had been appointed acting finance chief, while Howard Williams, an employee of 13 years, would become acting general manager of the US subsidiary.

IQE, which said it has enough cash to fund it until 2005, has been hit by the collapse in spending by hi-tech companies, such as mobile phone groups and satellite positioning companies. Its shares, worth 217p last November, closed up 1.5p at 16.5p, valuing the company at just under £30m.

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