SAN JOSE — T.J. Rodgers, founder and former CEO of Cypress Semiconductor Corp., has entered into a settlement agreement with the company stemming from a conflict of interest suit he filed over the company’s involvement with Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, an equity investment firm backed by the Chinese government.
Rodgers, the company’s largest shareholder, took exception with former Cypress Executive Chairman Ray Bingham’s ties to Bridge Capital and its designs on acquiring Oregon-based Lattice Semiconductor Corp.
During the height of the debate, Rodgers described Bingham as one of two founding partners of Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, and their $1.3 billion attempted acquisition of Lattice is now under review by tCommittee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CIFUS), a U.S. government agency that reviews transactions as a part of protecting national security.
Part of the cooperation and settlement agreement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reached by Rodgers and Cypress also calls for the re-nomination of J. Daniel McCranie and Camillo Martino to the Cypress Board of Directors through the 2019 Annual Meeting of Cypress stockholders.
"I think he had concerns that before long the company might be competing for some of the same properties as Cypress,” Stephen Diamond, an associate law professor at Santa Clara University, told the Northern California Record. “I think China’s potential expansion in the U.S. semiconductor market was something he definitely thought about."
At the time of his filing, Rodgers claimed Bingham did not inform the Cypress board of his connection to Canyon Bridge, instead leading them to believe Lattice simply emerged as a “white knight” buyer of Cypress, which it had twice previously sought to acquire.
Diamond hinted that Rodgers and Cypress are not alone in their concern about foreign powers infiltrating the domestic market.
“There’s been a push among some in the interest for the government to do more to help grow the industry,” Diamond said. “Things like investing in the industry with the hope of attracting more young students have been talked about more and more.”
After 34 years, Rodgers stepped down from his post at Cypress and soon after that filed suit in Delaware after his demands for books and records from Cypress were denied.