The firm has confirmed rumours that it is to lay off about 50 per cent of its European workforce and will focus on notebook PCs with the aim of regaining profitability. The firm will also move its manufacturing to a smaller plant, also within Limerick, Ireland. About 135 staff will be retained in the move.
In a statement the firm said that Korean giant Samsung's ownership provides AST with unique flexibility at component level. Samsung claims it can provide 65 per cent of notebook components in a business where many players manufacture almost none of their own products. Samsung is a powerful force in RAM, hard drives and screens but AST's Ascentia line still lags behind Toshiba, IBM, Compaq, Dell and others in notebook sales.
Last April, the company pulled out of the consumer PC sector.
"AST has made clear that it needs to take aggressive action to drive its return to profit," said Rod Rodericks, senior vice-president, AST Europe. "As part of that strategy it has been necessary for AST Europe to focus on its most profitable area of business. We have an excellent notebook range that is critically acclaimed, which has continued to grow well ahead of market rates. Today's announcement will allow AST Europe to focus on its strengths and build a solid business base for the future."