July 20, 2020 / 8:39 PM / 14 days ago

U.S. Commerce official, who left last week, joins Lam Research

July 20 (Reuters) - A Commerce Department official closely involved in changes to U.S. policy on exports to China that shook up the semiconductor industry has joined chip equipment maker Lam Research Corp.

Richard Ashooh, who resigned last week after three years as Commerce's U.S. assistant secretary for export administration, started on Monday as Lam's global head of government affairs.

His move highlights the chipmaking industry's increasing vulnerability to the administration's policies on China and in particular Huawei Technologies, the world's largest communications equipment maker.

Ashooh's "track record of solving complex problems and engaging diverse stakeholders makes him an ideal partner to advocate on behalf of Lam Research," the company said in a statement.

In his last official act, Ashooh signed an entity listing posted on Monday restricting 11 Chinese companies from buying from U.S. suppliers over China's treatment of its Uighur population.

Ashooh also was involved with Huawei's addition to the entity list last year, a move that limited the flagship Chinese company's U.S. suppliers. More recently, the department also restricted overseas companies from supplying certain chips to Huawei if they use U.S. chipmaking equipment.

This spring, the Commerce Department also adopted other rules that could hurt the semiconductor industry, including several aimed at keeping semiconductor production equipment and other technology away from Beijing's military.

In an April filing, in fact, Lam said its international sales could be materially affected bynew requirements to obtain license requirements and other regulatory changes.

Ashooh is banned by the government from work on companies he placed on the entity list, but the restrictions are less stringent on broader rules instituted during his years in export control.

Fremont, California-based Lam supplies wafer fabrication equipment and services to the semiconductor industry. According to the company, nearly every advanced chip is built today with Lam technology. (Reporting by Karen Freifeld Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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