A pack of four buyout firms led by the Blackstone Group (BX) paid $17.5 billion to take private one of the world's largest semiconductor companies, Freescale Semiconductor, at the end of 2006. The group hoped to grow the company (BusinessWeek, 11/27/06), which had been spun off from Motorola in 2004, in part through acquisitions. Yet ever since, Freescale has struggled, in part because Motorola (MOT)—which is having its own problems—remains one of its biggest customers. Some of the company's bonds recently traded for as little as 68¢ on the dollar, according to bond watcher MarketAxess (MKTX).
On Feb. 13, Freescale announced that Richard Beyer, the chief executive office of Milpitas (Calif.)-based chipmaker Intersil (ISIL), will replace Freescale's CEO, Michel Mayer. (Freescale announced that Mayer was leaving on Feb. 8.) BusinessWeek Senior Writer Emily Thornton, who covers private equity, spoke with Beyer about his plans to reverse Freescale's bad streak.