China's SMIC Appoints New CEO as Chang Resigns

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Semiconductor Manufacturing International (SMIC), China's biggest chip maker, replaced its CEO on Tuesday, just one day after it settled an intellectual property lawsuit that was seen as a major blow to the company.

Richard Chang, who founded the company almost ten years ago, left the company to pursue personal interests, SMIC said in a statement without giving details. He has been replaced as CEO and president of SMIC by David Wang, a former CEO of Chinese chip maker Huahong Group.

The move comes after a California court last week ruled against SMIC in a case brought by rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC). That case, which SMIC did not mention in the statement announcing the appointment of its new CEO, was brought against the company over allegations of patent infringement, theft of trade secrets and breach of contract from an earlier settlement between the two companies.

TSMC could have been awarded damages of up to US$1 billion, enough to force SMIC to seek a buy-out, according to one analyst.

But the two companies settled the case on Monday, according to hearing minutes posted on the Web site of the Superior Court of California in Alameda County. The minutes did not reveal the size of the settlement. A SMIC representative and a TSMC spokesman declined to comment.

TSMC, the world's largest contract chip maker, previously sued SMIC in a case over patent infringement and trade secrets theft that was settled in 2005. SMIC paid its rival $175 million and won a cross-licensing deal in that settlement, but the next year TSMC filed the current lawsuit.

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