Roseville semiconductor maker spins off design firm

Published: Tuesday, Sep. 2, 2014 - 9:01 am

A Roseville semiconductor manufacturer has spun off its chip-design operation into a separate business.

The new company, TF Semiconductor Solutions Inc., employs a dozen workers and will focus on designing chips for power-management devices, said Duke Walton, vice president for worldwide sales and marketing.

TF was spun off from TSI Semiconductors Inc., the chip manufacturer that has operated in Roseville under several different names and ownership groups since the 1980s.

“The idea was to separate the two companies and let them do what they do best,” said Walton, who had been an executive with TSI before joining the new company.

Sagar Pushpala, chief executive of TSI, said his company decided to execute the spinoff to become a “pure-play wafer foundry” that makes chips ordered and designed by others. Having a design unit meant TSI was competing with its own customers, he said.

He said no money changed hands in the deal.

The spinoff company hasn’t strayed too far from its roots. TF Semiconductor Solutions is occupying space at TSI’s Roseville campus, Walton said.

The spinoff is the latest twist in the long and sometimes tortured history of the Roseville chip plant. Originally a part of NEC Electronics, the plant has gone through several ownership changes. In 2012, when it was called Telefunken Semiconductors, the company sued two former top executives, claiming they had diverted $23 million from the Roseville facility to support a separately owned chip plant they controlled in Germany. The financial woes prompted the layoff of 85 people and, according to the lawsuit, nearly made the Roseville plant insolvent.

The case was settled and the company, which renamed itself TSI, has stabilized. It employs more than 400 workers.

Roger Lee, who was interim president during TSI’s recovery, is president and chief executive of the spinoff company. TF Semiconductor employs designers in Torrance and Dover, N.H., and also has workers in Asia. It has lined up several contracts already.

“We’re a startup that already has some business going for it, and that’s a good place to be,” Walton said.

Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.

Read more articles by Dale Kasler

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