* New CEO lays out strategy
* Plans to cut jobs, define financial targets
* Shares down 3.6 percent, underperform market
FRANKFURT, May 23 Aixtron's new chief
executive laid out a strategy focused on returning to profit and
wrestling back leadership of the global market for LED
chip-making equipment from U.S. rival Veeco Instruments
The German company swung from a profit in 2011 to a net loss
of 103.2 million euros ($132.9 million) last year as orders from
customers making light-emitting diode (LED) chips for
televisions and lighting equipment dried up.
Though finance chief Wolfgang Breme said at Aixtron's annual
shareholder meeting on Thursday that a weak economy had made
customers hesitant to invest in production capacity last year,
CEO Martin Goetzeler said that not all of the company's problems
could be blamed on the market downturn.
Goetzeler, who took the helm in March, said Aixtron rushed
to launch a new product in China, the world's biggest market, to
take advantage of subsidies and consequently suffered costly and
reputation-damaging quality problems.
"We resolved the majority of the problems, and open issues
are being systematically addressed," he said.
Aixtron is now taking a number of measures to cut costs and
return to profit, including a 20 percent cut to staffing levels
in Germany. It will also define clear targets for group sales,
operating profit, free cashflow and return on capital employed.
The company plans to rely more on standardised products for
modular designs rather than customising solutions for individual
customers and will seek to improve its customer service by
appointing technically experienced key account managers.
Shares in Aixtron fell 3.6 percent to 12.40 euros by 1204
GMT, underperforming Germany's TecDAX index, which was
down 1.9 percent.
"We welcome the programme," Equinet analyst Adrian Pehl
said. "But in any case, Aixtron will continue to struggle to
preserve cash this year and, longer-term, to win back market
share from main rival Veeco."