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ATS Appoints Veteran French Energy Industry Executive as CEO of Photowatt

ATS Automation


  • Brings 30 years' experience to new post, including renewable energies
  • Appointment critical next step in strengthening solar business for spin out

CAMBRIDGE, ON, Sept. 10 /CNW/ - ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc., today announced it has hired a highly experienced French energy industry executive to the position of Chief Executive Officer of Photowatt, the Company's solar business.

Until his previous employer has made accommodations (a requirement under French employment law), the name of the new Photowatt CEO cannot be announced. However, in the interim, ATS felt it was appropriate to inform shareholders of this important development, which is a pivotal next step in strengthening Photowatt prior to its spin out. As previously disclosed, the spin out is expected in the Spring of 2008 and is subject to ATS shareholder approval, expected in early 2008.

The new Photowatt CEO has more than 30 years of experience in the energy industry, including executive leadership of a public company. His experience spans renewable energy, manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution. He has an MBA and trained as an engineer.

‘‘We set a very high standard in our search and we have been extremely fortunate to have secured such a high quality person to lead Photowatt,’‘ said ATS President and CEO Ron Jutras. ‘‘Number one, he has experience in growing a company and positioning it for a successful transition to the capital markets. This knowledge will be invaluable to Photowatt now, during the lead up to its spin out, and long term as a standalone, public company. Two, he understands the energy industry based on 30 plus years of experience. Three, he has the substantial marketing, sales and business leadership skills that we identified as crucial to the ongoing development and strengthening of Photowatt. We're delighted he has agreed to join us.’‘

The new CEO will be based at Photowatt's headquarters near Lyon, France where he will direct Photowatt's growth, product development and expansion.

Recruiting an experienced, French-based CEO for Photowatt meets one of ATS's key objectives this year in its aggressive program to strengthen its solar division. This hiring follows a number of other improvements made in the past few months including securing several long-term silicon supply agreements with industry leaders to support Photowatt's planned expansion, launching a refined metallurgical silicon manufacturing strategy and raising $110 million of new investment capital to support Photowatt.

Next on management's agenda this year is formalizing an R&D collaboration with CEA, the world renowned French research institute, and EDF, France's major electrical utility. The partners expect to incorporate the legal entity partnership by the end of September.

About ATS
ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc. provides innovative, custom designed, built and installed manufacturing solutions to many of the world's most successful companies. Founded in 1978, ATS uses its industry-leading knowledge and global capabilities to serve the sophisticated automation systems' needs of multinational customers in industries such as healthcare, computer/electronics, automotive and consumer products. It also leverages its many years of repetitive manufacturing experience and skills to fulfill the specialized repetitive equipment manufacturing requirements of customers.

Through its Photowatt solar business, ATS participates in the growing solar energy industry and through its precision components business it produces, in high volume, precision components and subassemblies. ATS employs approximately 3,500 people at 24 manufacturing facilities in Canada, the United States, Europe, southeast Asia and China. The Company's shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol ATA. Visit the Company's website at www.atsautomation.com.

Forward Looking Statement
This news release contains certain statements that constitute forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities laws (‘‘forward-looking statements’‘). Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of ATS, or developments in ATS's business or in its industry, to differ materially from the anticipated results, performance, achievements or developments expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.  Forward-looking statements include all disclosure regarding possible events, conditions or results of operations that is based on assumptions about future economic conditions and courses of action. Forward-looking statements may also include, without limitation, any statement relating to future events, conditions or circumstances. ATS cautions you not to place undue reliance upon any such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are made.  Forward-looking statements relate to, among other things: the development and strengthening of Photowatt; the spin out of Photowatt; that the new Photowatt CEO's knowledge, experience, and skills will benefit Photowatt; expected growth, product development and expansion at Photowatt; and R&D collaboration with CEA and EDF, including timing of incorporation of a legal entity.  The risks and uncertainties that may affect forward-looking statements include, among others:  general market performance; market performance within the solar sector; the state of the capital markets; ability to secure required funding for the solar business; foreign currency and exchange risk; strength of the Canadian dollar; risks associated with operating and servicing customers in a foreign country; the receipt of all necessary approvals and advance tax ruling relating to the spin out; performance of ATS's solar business; managing the impact of supply shortages and higher prices for polysilicon; political, labour, supplier or other disruptions in the manufacturing and supply of the silicon products by Photowatt's suppliers; Photowatt's ability to secure additional long-term polysilicon supply contracts; reversal of current silicon supply arrangements; potential for silicon prices to decline in the face of long-term silicon supply arrangements; achievement of technical advances in cell efficiency; inability to advance collaborative development arrangements focused on increasing power efficiencies of solar cells; possibility that improvements in production efficiencies will not be obtained and/or, if they are, will not be sufficient to offset higher silicon costs and shortages and any reductions in average selling price of solar products; the cost and availability of silicon and other raw materials and certain specialized manufacturing tools and fixtures used in the production of Photowatt's products; the successful expansion of production capability and adoption of new production processes; the extent of market demand for solar products such as those developed by the solar business; the availability and timing of government incentives for solar products; the reduction in government incentives and its effect on Photowatt; the development of superior or alternative technologies to those developed by the solar business; and other risks detailed from time to time in ATS's filings with Canadian provincial securities regulators.  Forward-looking statements are based on management's current plans, estimates, projections, beliefs and opinions, and ATS does not undertake any obligation to update forward-looking statements should assumptions related to these plans, estimates, projections, beliefs and opinions change.

For further information: Investors: Carl Galloway, Vice President and
Treasurer or Gerry Beard, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, (519) 653-6500; Media: Josh Pekarsky, Longview Communications, (604) 694-6030; Alan Bayless, Longview Communications, (604) 694-6035

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