Plessey will join Mitel's semiconductor division to form one of the world's top ten manufacturers of communication semiconductors. Plessey is the 11th company that GEC has sold since September 1996, as it tries to focus on its core businesses of defence and aerospace, telecommunications and industrial electronics.

Plessey is renowned for its application-specific integrated circuits for the telecoms, media and personal computer markets, and recently developed its own 0.35 µm complementary metal oxide silicon (CMOS) technology. It employs about 2700 staff worldwide and made a pre-tax profit of £7.2 m on a turnover of £216 m in 1996/97. Mitel Telecom is a major supplier of telecoms equipment and components and made a profit of $26 m in fiscal year 1997 on a turnover of $485 m.

Managers of Mitel's semiconductor division will move to Swindon in the UK for a year to integrate the R&D, manufacturing and sales and marketing efforts of the two firms. Ken Robertson, a regional marketing manager for Mitel, says that it is too early to speculate on job losses, but adds that the possibility can not be dismissed. He says that Mitel's first task will be turn the Plessey business around.