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NEWPORT BEACH, CA-Conexant Systems Inc., a Newport Beach-based manufacturer of semiconductors, has recently announced that it is selling the photomask portion of its operations. The news comes as recent research shows that the county’s manufacturing slowdown seems to be easing up.

The buyer, Jupiter, FL-based Photronics Inc., will acquire Conexant’s photomask manufacturing assets. The assets consist of various pieces of manufacturing equipment, according to a Photronics spokesperson. The sale will allow Conexant to outsource this facet of its operations, as Photronics will become the primary supplier of photomasks to Conexant, under the terms of a multi-year supply agreement between the two companies.

The deal, which is expected to close by the end of this month, will result in the layoffs of 30 Conexant employees. However, the Newport Beach plant that houses the photomask operations will remain open. “The facility will still manufacture semiconductors,” says Gwen Carlson, a spokesperson for Conexant.

The transaction comes as the decline in the county’s manufacturing activity has begun to ease up, according to research by Chapman University. The university’s composite index, which is used to measure the manufacturing sector, has increased to 45.8 in the second quarter from 43.7 in the first quarter. The index measures the manufacturing sector in terms of production, new orders, employment, inventories of purchased materials and supplier deliveries.

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