The computer chip distributor Nu Horizons Electronics Corp. of Melville has appointed a new president and chief executive, the company said Thursday.

Martin Kent, 59, who was described by Nu Horizons as "a 35-year veteran of the semiconductor distribution industry," will take over May 3. Kent is former chief executive of Abacus Group Plc of Britain.

The appointment comes after the company's share price plunged in March on news that it had lost one of its key distribution partners, Xilinx Inc. Xilinx merchandise provided Nu Horizons with nearly one-third of its annual sales, which were about $180 million in the quarter ended Nov. 30.

Kent has already moved to Long Island from Newbury, England, Nu Horizons said.

As Kent takes control of the company, Arthur Nadata, a company founder, current executive chairman and interim chief executive, will continue to serve as nonexecutive chairman.

Richard Schuster, also a company founder, will remain as executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Nadata said in a news release, "We are delighted to bring someone of Martin's experience and ability on as CEO to lead Nu Horizons. We believe that his prior industry experience as CEO of Abacus Group, Plc, will be invaluable in running Nu Horizons."

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