South Portland ‘cautiously optimistic’ after Fairchild sale

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Although Gov. Paul LePage predicted hundreds of jobs will be lost, Assistant City Manager Josh Reny was “cautiously optimistic” following the sale of Fairchild Semiconductor this week to Arizona-based ON Semiconductor.

Fairchild employs about 600 people in a plant off Western Avenue and at its corporate offices on Running Hill Road. It manufactures a variety of products, including automobile parts; power switches; parts for mobile phones, digital cameras and DVD players, and computer interface products.

The final sale of Fairchild for $2.4 billion to the Phoenix-based company was announced Monday. In a Sept. 19 press release, ON Semiconductor President and CEO Keith Jackson said his company’s acquisition of Fairchild is a “transformative step in our quest to become the premier supplier of power management and analog semiconductor solutions for a wide range of applications and end markets.”

The partnership will provide ON a “platform to aggressively expand our profitability in a highly fragmented industry,” Jackson said. “We are now well positioned to generate substantial shareholder value as we integrate operations of the two companies.”

The announcement made no mention of possible layoffs or plant closings.

But in an interview on WVOM, LePage, referring to April comments he made predicting the loss of 900 southern Maine jobs this year, said “I’ve known about the semiconductor since last April where I sort of hinted there was going to be some major employers leaving.

“The likelihood of them leaving, it’s unfortunately, is a high probability,” LePage said, according to the Bangor Daily News.

On Wednesday, however, Reny said there’s “no indication whatsoever” there will be layoffs.

“Yes, there’s been an acquisition, (but) we’re anticipating that the business is going to continue,” and any negative speculation is “premature” at this point, he said.

In the coming weeks, Reny said, city staff will reach out to representatives from ON to talk more specifically about the company’s plans.

The city has talked with LePage’s office and has been assured that if there is any news about closures or layoffs “they will communicate it.”

“(But) as of right now, we haven’t received any information that anything is changing,” he said.

Reny even suggested the acquisition “could very well be a good thing.”

“Who knows,” he said. “Maybe a year from now, (ON) will even be looking at an expansion. We just can’t speculate.”

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA.

An ON Semiconductor sign covers the former Fairchild Semiconductor sign at the company’s plant in South Portland, after a $2.4 billion sale was finalized Sept. 19.

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.