The Advanced Micro Devices shareholder vote needed before a $4.6 billion computer chip factory can be built in Luther Forest was postponed at the last minute Tuesday.
More than half the shareholders have yet to vote on plans to create a new manufacturing partnership with two government of Abu Dhabi investment funds, so the special shareholder meeting in Austin, Texas, was postponed until Feb. 18.
Company officials said the timetable for Tuesday’s meeting may have been too aggressive.
“We have adjourned our special meeting of stockholders to next Wednesday in order to have more time to solicit proxies and establish a quorum,” company spokesman Travis Bullard said.
Only 41.7 percent of shares were represented in person or by proxy at Tuesday’s meeting, but at least 50 percent had to be available, AMD senior counsel Harry Wolin said. The meeting lasted less than 10 minutes before Wolin adjourned it.
Bullard said company officials were surprised at the lack of a quorum but are confident that they can secure the necessary votes by next week.
The vote would be the final step in a corporate reorganization that includes the forming a partnership with Advanced Technology Investment Co. of Abu Dhabi, which will invest $2.1 billion. The new company, being called The Foundry Co., will take over AMD’s manufacturing assets, including the Luther Forest plan.
AMD, which has struggled financially and lost more than $2 billion over the past two years, has described the spinoff as part of a new “asset smart” strategy.
The plan was announced last October, subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals. Current terms between AMD and the Abu Dhabi investors require the deal to be completed by March 7.
“All parties remain fully committed to closing the transaction in the next few weeks,” Bullard said.
Bullard said 97 percent of shares that have voted to date are in favor of the transaction.
“The direction is pretty unanimous,” he said.
If the Luther Forest project goes forward, it is expected to employ 1,465 people starting in about 2012 and spur other high-tech economic activity throughout the Capital Region.
Land clearing at a 222-acre site on the Malta-Stillwater town line could start in March, based on what company officials have previously said. Plant construction would start in June. Bullard said Tuesday that that timetable hasn’t changed.
“I think it’s just a minor little glitch,” said Malta Town Supervisor Paul Sausville. “I’m very confident they are coming. Everything is in motion on so many different levels.”
The Malta Planning Board was due to have its first detailed look at the construction plans Tuesday night, but it wasn’t expected to take any votes.
Michael Relyea, president of the Luther Forest Technology Campus corporation, said he doesn’t attach significance to the delay.
“The adjournment of today’s shareholders vote is essentially a non-issue. Luther Forest Technology Campus considers the 97 percent approval rating from the initial 42 percent of votes as an overwhelmingly positive indicator for the final steps of the deal,” Relyea said.
Some analysts, however, said the development indicated investor uncertainty.
Analyst Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates told the MarketWatch Web site that the company’s failure to secure the needed votes by now was bad news.
“AMD wants to see the deal done quickly for any number of reasons, not the least of which are necessary capital and a sense of stability so the company can continue operations,” Kay said.
AMD stock fell immediately after the delay was announced. Amid a broad market selloff, it closed Tuesday at $2.11 per share, down 10.6 percent.
Also Tuesday, AMD’s larger microprocessor rival, Intel Corp., announced that it will be investing $7 billion in factory upgrades over the next two years.
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