March 6, 2003 – Villach, Austria – The SEZ Group has taken steps to refocus its resources on single-wafer wet surface preparation technology. This move includes the closing of its wet bench production facility in Donaueschingen, Germany, which was acquired by the SEZ Group in February 2001. The second step is the shift of resources to SEZ’s core business, patented single-wafer equipment for microchip production. To further facilitate this refinement the SEZ Group reduced its global work force by 20% from 750 to 600 employees worldwide. The SEZ Group’s staff reduction includes the closing of the Donaueschingen facility but will not affect the company’s service, process and sales support.
As part of the withdrawal from the wet bench business, the SEZ Group will be required to depreciate assets (primary property, plant and equipment, inventories and goodwill), which will be charged back to business year 2002. Therefore, the SEZ Group will show a net-loss in the range of CHF 12 to 15 million for business year 2002, instead of the originally expected net-profit of more than CHF 10 million. Additional operating costs and consequences from the worldwide work force reduction will be charged against the half-year result for 2003. The business restructuring refocus on single-wafer technology product development will lower the SEZ Group’s break-even level significantly, starting in the third-quarter of 2003. SEZ’s financial plan is to lower the company’s break-even from CHF 45 million to below CHF 40 million per quarter, beginning in the ensuing third quarter. By implementing these cost reductions SEZ expects to build upon its current cash position.