GTAT downsizing business with 40% workforce reduction

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PV and sapphire materials equipment specialist GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) said it would undertake a major reduction in its global workforce as it reduces expenses inline with a revised business plan ahead of expectations of emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the first quarter of 2016.

GTAT said that it would reduce global headcount and related operating expenses by approximately 40%. 

The company had 541 full-time employees at the end of 2013, according to its last filed annual report ahead of bankruptcy in 2014, which also excluded the significant number of jobs later recruited for its sapphire operations for Apple and the subsequent closure of the operation and Chapter 11 filing. 

Therefore it is difficult to independently verify exact headcount levels of the company ahead of the announced job cuts, though obviously significant. GTAT did not provide update headcount figures ahead of the reduction plan.

GTAT had previously stated that it expected to employ more than 1,100 workers by of the end of June, 2014, with over 1,000 in the US.

However, GTAT said that an undisclosed revised business plan would mean the company would focus on its core technologies and product offerings, which in effect is the same as before entering the actual production of sapphire substrates for Apple. 

Aside from its sapphire equipment business, saddled with selling furnaces used at the Apple owned-production plant in Arizona, GTAT had been selling DSS solar wafer ingot furnace inventory on an ad-hoc basis having previously announced an exit from that sector. 

The majority of its core technology order backlog, outside sapphire furnaces had been polysilicon production equipment. 

New technologies that had been introduced but yet to secure revenue included its ‘Merlin’ cell interconnect technology and ‘Hyperion’ tool acquired through its Twin Creeks Technology acquisition that has multiple industrial applications, including creating ultra-thin solar wafer substrates. 

GTAT noted that the revised business plan was designed to capture expected increase in demand for equipment in the PV industry over the next two years. 

Other businesses within the company would also be assessed as to their strategic importance to the company's operations after exiting Chapter 11 proceedings.

GTAT did not provide details of the financial impairment charges related to the downsizing of its operations. 

Long-standing CEO, Tom Gutierrez recently resigned all positions at the company, replaced by former EVP and general manager of its Polysilicon and Photovoltaic business, David Keck.

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