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Siemens has cut its stake in Infineon, its erstwhile semiconductor division, to under 50 per cent, paving the way for the chip maker's independence.

Siemens made the cut by selling Infineon shares on the open market. In addition to 13.5 per cent of the chip maker owned by Siemens' pension fund, the German industrial giant held a 50.4 per cent stake in the company. That gave Siemens a total shareholding of 63.9 per cent, all of it in the form of voting stock.

To reduce that figure to below 50 per cent, Siemens not only sold a tranche of its own stock, leaving the pension fund's holding untouched, but converted 29 per cent of its remaining shares into non-voting stock.

The move essentially reduces the degree to which Siemens can influence Infineon's actions, something Infineon chief executive Ulrich Schumacher was keen to see. Siemens representatives are believed to have blocked manoeuvres Schumacher has wanted to make. Schumacher is now freed from this influence, and Infineon's board will lose four Siemens staff - one of who may be the chip maker's chairman.

The sale also takes Infineon out of Siemens' accounts, ensuring the giant's figures aren't going to be dragged down by the effects of the depressed DRAM market, for instance. For that reason, Siemens' move also proved popular with investors. Its stock rose ten per cent to 73.65 Euro ($65.47) on news of the move. ®

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