(Bloomberg) -- ASML Holding NV, the most valuable technology company in Europe, plans to appoint Christophe Fouquet as chief executive officer and president when its two co-presidents retire next year.
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Fouquet, currently the Dutch firm’s chief business officer, is slated to take the helm when the terms of CEO Peter Wennink and Chief Technology Officer Martin van den Brink expire in April, the company said in a statement on Thursday. The appointment is subject to notification at ASML’s annual shareholder meeting.
Fouquet, a French national, will take over at a critical time for ASML as the world’s most advanced producer of chipmaking machines is caught up in rising geopolitical tensions between the US and China that have led to export controls on its technology.
Fouquet has worked at ASML for 15 years and previously held executive roles in semiconductor equipment industry at KLA Corp. and Applied Materials Inc.
Wennink, who has led the company since 2013, steered ASML as it became the leading equipment provider for semiconductors that power everything from smartphones and servers to electric vehicles and sophisticated military gear. The company’s shares surged more than 900% during his tenure.
More recently, Wennink sought to maintain access to the China market as the relationship between Beijing and Washington deteriorated. He has been outspoken in his criticism of policies that limit global trade.
In 2019, under pressure from the Trump administration, the Dutch government withheld an export license enabling ASML to sell its top-of-the-line extreme ultraviolet, or EUV, lithography machines to China. ASML is the only producer of such technology. Then, pushed by the Biden administration, the Netherlands tightened export controls on China further this year.
Read More: ASML, Europe’s Most Valuable Tech Firm, Defines Global Chip War
Under Wennink, China has gone from a rounding error to 46% of sales last quarter as chipmakers there boosted orders ahead of the looming export controls. He has argued that clamping down on exports could eventually push Beijing to develop its own advanced chipmaking machines.
CTO Van den Brink joined the company in 1984 and is seen as one of the drivers behind ASML’s technology innovations. Over his nearly four decades at the company, ASML has gone from a bit player competing with the likes of Nikon Corp. and Canon Inc. to the world’s only maker of very high-end semiconductor lithography equipment.
--With assistance from Vlad Savov.
(Updates with details about Fouquet starting in the third paragraph.)
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