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Hi-tech link opens growth opportunity; SEMICONDUCTORS: Newport-based Surface Technology Systems in marketing deal with Xactix of US.

Byline: JAMES PRITCHARD

The partnership is based on Xactix, being mainly involved in the sale of machines used in research and development with STS's main area of expertise bulk manufacturing.

Together the two hope to offer customers the chance to buy an entire system that covers what they need from initial research to production.

STS chief executive Ian Smith was excited by the deal. He said yesterday, ``It makes sense for us to approach this market in this way rather than simply compete with each other.''

``By joining forces we hope we can provide a seamless service to our customers and also increase the turnover we are generating.

``The proposed alliance is an important strategic initiative for both companies.

``It reinforces STS's position as the leading micro-electrical mechanical equipment supplier and broadens STS's product offering in the market.

``For Xactix it opens up new customer opportunities with the backing of a proven global support infrastruc-ture. Both companies expect to gain incremental sales from this agreement''.

``We do believe this will have an impact on revenue, although at this stage it is too early to talk about how great that might be.''

A DEAL to market innovative microtechnology is set to hand semiconductor business Surface Technology Systems a huge growth opportunity.

Yesterday the Newport-based company which specialises in making the equipment used in the manufacture of complex micro-electronic devices announced it had come to a joint marketing agreement with US business Xactix Inc.

Under the deal the sales forces of both companies will market each other's products and be able to offer two distinct technological approaches to their customers. Xactix brings its xenon difluoride gas etching process to the partnership and STS hopes that will complement the deep vertical etching it has developed.

Under the agreement the two businesses will work together to combine their current products into a unified product line available from either company.

The STS worldwide sales and service support teams will be available to service Xactix products and the Welsh company will be the sole agent for all products in Europe.

STS and Xactix will also jointly develop new products.

David Springer, the executive vice-president at Xactix said the agreement opened up opportunities for both the companies and their clients.

``This also opens up some very interesting capabilities for our customers,'' he said.

Specialist machines manufacturer

Name: Surface Technology Systems Ltd.

Address: Imperial Park, Newport. First Listed: December 8, 2000. Market capitalisation: pounds 22.77mSurface Technology Systems is a manufacturer of specialist machines for processing wafers made from sil-icon and compound semiconductor materials using plasma (dry gas) technology.

The technology and equipment are used by STS's customers for the fabrication of tiny micro-electric devices used in air-bag triggers, stability control and braking systems in cars, power amplifier chips in mobile phones and optical switches.

STS exports over 85pc of its products and is listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange.

The Group has more that 300 staff, of which about 30 are located overseas.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 20, 2002
Words:500
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