Siemens has announced the sale of its closed-down North Tyneside semiconductor factory to US microchip manufacturer Atmel for an undisclosed sum.
Atmel expects to create between 1000 and 1500 jobs at the plant during the next three years in chip manufacturing, with additional jobs in supply chain companies. The UK government has awarded Atmel a £27.8m Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) grant to assist the acquisition.
Bob Henderson, Atmel's director of marketing and communications, said the plant would be used to manufacture non-volatile memory, which can be used in devices ranging from digital cameras to set-top boxes and micro-controllers.
He added that Atmel was attracted to Newcastle because the building and infrastructure, including a clean room environment, is already there, along with a skilled pool of workers whose training will be assisted by the government's RSA grant. "Buying the Newcastle plant gives us a running start," said Henderson.
Stephen Byers, Trade and Industry Secretary, said: "I am confident that Atmel's arrival will give fresh impetus to the North East. The closure announcements by Siemens in August 1998 and by Fujitsu only a month later of its semiconductor plant in County Durham undoubtedly proved to be one of the biggest challenges in the region's economic history.
"The government never lost confidence that the region would remain resilient in the face of its difficulties, and bounce back. That is what has now happened, with Atmel in North Tyneside following Filtronic in County Durham in filling the vacant plants."
Siemens opened the plant in 1995 but closed it in 1998 in response to a collapse of the world semiconductor market, since when it has been in talks with a number of potential buyers.
The plant is currently being used by mobile phone giant Orange as a temporary customer support centre.
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