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PCB | January 30, 2007

"AT&amp;S to stand strong even<br>if the market declines"

evertiq got the chance to have a little chat with Europe's largest PCB maker AT&amp;S CEO Dr. Harald Sommerer. Dr. Sommerer told evertiq that he predicts 2007 to be a good year for the European PCB industry but even if that wouldn't be the case he still think that AT&amp;S will have a successful year.
“For the well positioned companies like AT&S. Even if the market slows down I think there will be healthy development. Because this will be the time when our customers get real with their plans to consolidate the supply chain. Because you need to realise that today our customers very often have five, six or even more PCB suppliers and PCB is just one component. They have a clear defined strategy to let´s say cut down the number of suppliers for each component to maximum three", Sommerer told evertiq.

Dr. Sommerer states that 2006 was a good year for the European PCB industry and that AT&S this year, by the fiscal fourth quarter ending by the end of March, will have reached 460 million euros in turnover and next year that number is predicted to have grown to 530 million euros.

“We see continued growth. How fast is hard to predict but we see for us, a lot of backing of our strategy that well positioned players will get bigger shares. When you look at the industry it is still a very fragmented industry, the PCB industry. When you look at what's happening on the market you see that there are many small players that aren't profitable. Especially when it is necessary to go into new technology those will hit the wall. Because then you need to do investments and for the small players it will not pay off", Sommerer told evertiq.

Dr. Sommerer told evertiq that AT&S like many other PCB companies in Europe think that the times for making large volumes of low tech PCBs in Europe have past. AT&S is the biggest player on the PCB market in Europe and AT&S is also, according to Dr. Sommerer the biggest player in India with its large manufacturing operations there. In India AT&S PCB manufacturing is focused on standard multilayer boards in large volumes. AT&S Chinese manufacturing is very much focused on serving the telecom sector and the company's operations in Korea is focusing on manufacturing of flexible PCBs. AT&S has its focus on the European market but its telecom operations in China is serving the local telecom industry in China.

Dr. Sommerer points out that the logistics and the quality is very important for the company. He also reveals that some of the businesses that earlier have been transferred to Asia partly is moving back to Europe because of quality and logistics issues. However Dr. Sommerer wants to point out that you can no longer blame the low cost manufacturing for its low quality and low technology. The Asian PCB makers are today pretty much of the same technology level as the European PCB makers. The point is however that the European electronics industry doesn't necessarily only look at the price.

“The PCB is a rather small part of the BOM list", Sommerer told evertiq.

“Our customers want the best solution and that is not always at the lowest price. You need to look at the total cost", Sommerer told evertiq.

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