Dutch chip equipment maker ASML has appointed a new CEO after the retirement of long-serving boss Peter Wennink.

Wennink retired on Wednesday, April 24 after a 25-year-long career at the company. He was appointed President and CEO of ASML in 2013, having joined as CFO in 1999. Prior to that, he worked as a partner at Deloitte Accountants, specializing in the semiconductor equipment industry.

He has been replaced by Christophe Fouquet, a French national and the company’s former chief business officer. After holding marketing and product management roles at KLA-Tencor and Applied Materials, Fouquet joined ASML in 2008, where he filled similar positions. He was promoted to EVP of applications in 2013 and given the role of chief business officer in 2022.

Christophe Fouquet ASML CEO
Christophe Fouquet, CEO, ASML – ASML

ASML is the sole global supplier of extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) photolithography machines that are needed to make the most advanced 3nm and 5nm chips. Based in the Eindhoven suburb of Veldhoven, Netherlands, ASML is Europe’s, most valuable tech company, with a market cap of €338.7 billion ($363.2bn).

It has previously been reported that the Dutch government was concerned about Fouquet getting the job in case he sought to relocate some of ASML’s operations outside of the Netherlands.

This issue was raised after the company publicly complained that the government had failed to invest in improving infrastructure in Eindhoven, where the ASML is based, and criticized a number of government policies, including plans to end tax breaks for skilled migrants which would make it harder for the company to hire staff.

However, at the beginning of April, the Dutch government sought to placate ASML by announcing a €2.5 billion ($2.7 billion) spending package dubbed ‘Project Beethoven’ to improve housing, education, and transport routes, in addition to dealing with electric grid capacity shortages in Eindhoven.

It has since been reported by Reuters that ASML has signed a letter of intent to explore the possibility of expanding its operations in the city. The proposed expansion would reportedly see the company build on a relatively undeveloped area in the north of Eindhoven, near the city's airport, adding space for 20,000 new employees.

ASML remains in the eye of stormy US and China trade war

Despite the proposed expansion, Fouquet steps into the CEO role at a rather turbulent time for the ASML. Last week, the company saw its year-on-year net sales fall by 21.6 percent, totaling €5.3 billion ($5.6bn) for the first quarter of 2024, with quarter-over-quarter net bookings also decreasing during the same three-month period.

ASML is also at the center of the US government’s ongoing trade war with China, with the Dutch government increasingly succumbing to pressure from the Biden administration to block exports of ASML products to China.

First, it banned ASML from selling its most advanced equipment to China, and then in January 2024, it revoked an export license to stop the shipment of two older lithography machines to Chinese customers. In late March, the US government announced it would start asking its allies to stop their domestic semiconductor companies from servicing chipmaking tools for Chinese customers.

However, in a post on LinkedIn announcing his appointment, Fouquet didn’t note any of the challenges currently facing the company, instead choosing to highlight the fact that he and his new leadership team would be taking a customer-centric approach to ASML’s business strategy.

“Our customers have roadmaps, stretching 15+ years into the future, to continue to drive the performance and energy efficiency of chips,” he wrote. “We have a great opportunity to support these ambitions with technology innovation, and by performance improvements to the thousands of systems that we have shipped in past decades that continue to produce chips, day in and day out.”