Infineon, the semi-conductor manufacturer involved in price-fixing investigations by the US Department of Justice and the EEC's competition authority, has lost its CEO. Ulrich Schumacher has resigned "for personal reasons" according to an Infineon spokesperson.

The spokesperson said: "We have an interim CEO - the head of the supervisory board - but we are looking for a new CEO." Max Dietrich Kley, the interim CEO, can only serve for a maximum of 12 months according to German company law, but, the spokesperson said: "We are confident we will not use the whole period."

Ulrich Schumacher has led Infineon since it was spun out of Siemens AG in April 1999. He is said to be a hard-driving CEO. Infineon agreed last year to supply the Ferrari Formula 1 team with automotive electronic technology for three years. Ferrari lead driver Michael Schumacher is no relation though.

Ulrich Schumacher led Siemens' semi-conductor division before it was spun off (in which he is said to have been a leading force), and headed the memory business unit before that.

Profitability at Infineon has been hard to achieve as the DRAM market, which accounts for most of its production, has been a difficult one.

The DOJ and the EU are looking at possible DRAM price fixing in the 2001 period by Hynix, Samsung, Micron and Infineon. A Micron complaint was made to the EU in 2002 by Infineon. Under Schumacher's lead the company was also involved in patent disputes with Rambus.

Schumacher's resignation may have nothing to do with the investigations into the company's memory pricing practices but the timing has certainly raised eyebrows.