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Veeco president to be elevated to chief executive next month

Veeco chief executive William J. Miller.

Veeco chief executive William J. Miller. Credit: Marketing Communications

Veeco Instruments Inc., a maker of equipment used in producing light-emitting diodes and semiconductors, will elevate its president, William J. Miller, 50, to the role of chief executive effective Oct. 1, the Plainview company announced.

Current chairman and CEO John Peeler, 63, will become executive chairman. Peeler joined Veeco in 2007 as CEO and became board chairman in 2012.

"There is no one better suited than Bill to take over the helm as Veeco looks forward to its next chapter," Peeler said in a statement. 

The company announced the executive shuffle after Tuesday's market close. Shares of Veeco fell 0.01 percent to $11.85 on Wednesday. Twelve months ago the stock was trading at $19.45.

Miller, a 16-year veteran of Veeco, became president in 2016. Before joining Veeco, he served as an executive at Advanced Energy, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Exxon Mobile Corp., based in Irving, Texas.

"Veeco has built a reputation of helping customers overcome their most difficult technical challenges. This inspires us — along with our commitment to customer satisfaction," said Miller, who is shedding the title of president.

In another move, chief financial officer Shubham (Sam) Maheshwari will take on the additional role of chief operating officer.

In February 2017 Veeco agreed to acquire San Jose, California-based Ultratech Inc., a maker of lithography, laser-processing and inspection systems used to manufacture semiconductor devices and LEDs, for $815 million. In August the company took a $252 million noncash charge attributed to the performance of Ultratech.

In February Veeco announced it had settled a bruising legal battle over alleged patent infringement. The company ended litigation with Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc. in the Fujian High Court in China, and with SGL Carbon SE before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.

In a research note, Patrick J. Ho, an analyst at St. Louis-based Stifel Financial Corp., said he would be keeping an eye on Miller's efforts to improve the Ultratech businesses "to help validate the acquisition."

During Peeler's tenure, Ho said, the entry of Chinese competitors and "inexplicable" discounting by competitor Aixtron SE, based in Herzogenrath, Germany, had created a difficult competitive landscape.

In the year ended Dec. 31, Veeco narrowed its net loss to $44.8 million from $122.2 million the previous year. The company is Long Island's 13th largest public company, based on 2017 sales of $484.8 million.

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