April 10, 2018

AMSC: Trump the first to combat Chinese trade secret thefts

Photo | Grant Welker
AMSC's Devens offices.

Despite reports saying U.S. companies are concerned about a brewing trade war with China, one Central Massachusetts company is applauding the Trump Administration's efforts to get tough on the country.

In an interview with NPR, AMSC CEO Daniel McGahn, whose company has struggled to rebound after a Chinese wind turbine manufacturer allegedly stole its trade secrets, said President Bush and Obama could talk the talk, but President Donald Trump is the only to have acted

"This is the first time there are consequences ascribed to the Chinese behavior," he said in the interview.

The piece comes after a U.S. federal court in January found Sinovel Wind Group guilty of stealing trade secrets from the Devens-based company. Sentencing is scheduled for June.

According to AMSC, the company lost more than $1 billion in market capitalization and 70 percent of its workforce because of the scheme.

According to the June 2013 indictment, Sinovel purchased software and equipment manufactured and sold by AMSC for wind turbines made by Sinovel until 2011, when the company owed AMSC more than $100 million for products and services, not including contracts to purchase more than $700 million in goods and services.

The indictment alleged two Sinovel employees Zhao Haichun amd Su Liying, recruited an AMSC employee working in Austria to join Sinovel. That employee, Dajan Karabasevic, copied intellectual property from the AMSC computer system, including the source code for software used on wind turbines.

Jack McCall, a former director of superconductor cable systems at AMSC, told NPR that the scheme "really did shake the company up."

"It seemed like every month there was another layoff," McCall said. "There was just an awful lot of concern, anger. Nobody was sure their job was going to be there."

The company's share price plummeted along with its revenue, which fell from $100 million in the first three months of 2011 to just $9 million the next, NPR reported.

The company last year downsized, moving from its 335,000-square-foot Devens facility to a building in Ayer about one-fourth of its size. The company also laid off about 30 employees last spring.

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