Fairchild: HQ move from South Portland a 'paperwork thing'

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SOUTH PORTLAND — A decision by Fairchild Semiconductor to move its corporate headquarters from South Portland to San Jose, Calif., is designed to improve the company’s image as a brand, an official said.

Kevin London, Fairchild’s executive vice president of human resources, said decision will not affect the operations based at 82 Running Hill Road.

“It’s just a paperwork thing,” London said. “No one is affected job-wise. The building’s the same. There is no functional change.”

Erik Carson, South Portland’s assistant city manager and economic development director, said he was neither surprised nor disappointed by the announcement.

“They’re working to better position themselves in the global market,” Carson said.

South Portland has been the designated corporate headquarters since the company was spun off from National Semiconductor in 1998.

London said the $1.8 billion business has had three corporate centers for the last five years. About half of the executive staff is in South Portland, with others  in San Jose and Singapore.

The decision to redesignate it’s corporate headquarters to Silicon Valley was made in January, following a meeting of the company’s directors.

“Silicon Valley is the technology capital of the world,” London said. “It was felt there might be some benefit to our image to have that (corporate) designation in San Jose, in the center of Silicon Valley with all that technology.”

The paperwork was filed in Delaware, where the company is incorporated.

About 800 people are employed in South Portland, 300 in the corporate office and 500 in production.

The South Portland manufacturing plant makes analog switches, offline power switches, power factor controllers and interface devices for mobile phones, digital cameras, MP3 players, DVD players, games and notebook computers, among other compact devices.

The move is the latest in a series of actions being taken by the company to remain competitive in the global economy. 

Fairchild announced in January that it was laying off 120 employees. In February, the company asked the City Council to extend a tax break, which expires on July 1.

Meanwhile, the company and the city are exploring a joint venture to build a natural gas-fired electric plant to reduce the company’s operating costs.

In 2009, Fairchild considered moving its corporate offices to Scarborough, where it planned to build an environmentally efficient building.

But London said those plans fell through when the developer couldn’t secure financing.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings.