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When US-EU Industrial Disputes Were Courteously Resolved

13 years ago when ASML of the Netherlands acquired Silicon Valley Group of the USA, the regulatory processes were accomplished with exemplary courtesy and despatch.

“The thing peculiar to the US was a check on whether these were assets which were vital to the national interest”, recalls ASML’s then CEO Doug Dunn, “this was complex, and difficult, and took longer then we originally thought. We had to combat three elements: first there was the serious political agenda which was addressed by civil servants from the various departments of state-justice, commerce, and defence and they dealt with us entirely properly and appropriately – they gave us a very decent ride.”

“They were a band of strange fellows shooting 20 minute videos and sending them to senators and congressmen saying how we were foreigners that we were in league with communists and would supply all the technology to China”, says Dunn, “they were playing to populist hysteria. Genuine issues were muddied by unjustified half truths – distorted by external influences with a paranoid focus on protectionism and parochialism. It cost us a lot of time and money.”

The saving grace for ASML was the decency and sound judgment of US high-technology industry executives.

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“We were helped by the good sense of the CEOs of high-tech companies – all the Sematech companies – who flew to Washington to lobby on our behalf”, remembers Dunn. There’s a lesson to be learnt, reckons Dunn, which is all the more important today with the strongly contested anti-trust confrontations between the EC, Microsoft and Intel.

“The two trading blocks of the US and Europe have to work very hard at relationships otherwise we’ll square up to each other”, says Dunn, “we want a world in which there are equal opportunities to merge and acquire either way across the Atlantic and no one wants to get stuck in politics. We can’t have one sauce for the goose and another for the gander.”

Source: electronicsweekly

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