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Applied Materials puts two non-core units under one chief

By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Applied Materials, the top manufacturer of equipment for chip makers, on Wednesday named a new executive to head up two poorly performing non-core businesses - solar and display - though it said the business groups are not themselves being combined.

Applied Materials said it hired KLA-Tencor veteran Ali Salehpour to head the two groups.

Chipmakers worried about the global economy and wrestling with declining PC sales have been spending less on new manufacturing equipment sold by Applied Materials.

Applied Materials' non-core businesses have also performed poorly, and the company said in October it would cut its work force by 6 percent to 9 percent to reduce costs.

The solar panel industry has more than enough capacity to meet demand, and manufacturers of displays for TVs and other devices also face supply gluts.

Although Salehpour will head the two business groups, they will remain separate, said Applied Materials spokesman Matt Ceniceros.

Shares of Applied Materials slipped 2.26 percent in after- hours trade, after closing 2.3 percent higher at $10.60 on Nasdaq.

(Reporting By Noel Randewich; Editing by Bernard Orr and Leslie Adler)

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