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Byline: Kirk Ladendorf
Aug. 27--Motorola Inc. has been a force in the semiconductor industry for half a century, but last week, the company signaled that it may be prepared to unload its Austin-based chip business.
Company President Robert Growney told a small group of investors and analysts that he has set a deadline for the semiconductor business, which lost $805 million in the first half of the year, to turn itself around.
If that doesn't happen, the parent company would consider selling the business or making it a separate entity, Growney said last Monday, adding, "There are no sacred cows."
Growney's comments generated enthusiasm on Wall Street, where many analysts would like Motorola to exit the semiconductor business. But they created further anxiety in Austin, where Motorola employs 9,000 people who design, make, market or sell chips for a wide range of products including wireless phones, computer networking equipment and automobile control systems.
Like other Motorola workers, those in Austin have endured layoffs and a series of tough austerity measures as the company cuts costs to bolster earnings. They know the pressure is on.
"Based on what we have heard from Bob Growney, he is confident of our sector's financial prospects," said Motorola spokesman Jeff Hahn in Austin. "But we know very well we have to …