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Japan's Advantest says executive Lefever to become CEO

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japan chip testing equipment company Advantest said on Wednesday that Chief Operating Officer Douglas Lefever, a U.S. citizen, will become CEO from April, with current Chief Executive Yoshiaki Yoshida to move to chairman.

Lefever, who became COO in January last year and previously served as CEO of Advantest America, joins a select group of foreign leaders of companies in Japan, which is known for its hierarchical and codified corporate culture.

Lefever takes Advantest's reins at a time of growing investor anticipation about the boost chip equipment makers may receive from investment in artificial intelligence, with the company's shares gaining 44% year-to-date.

Advantest said last month it sees an improvement in the chip industry as inventories adjust and expects the memory tester market to reach roughly $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion this year compared with about $1.1 billion last year.

Tokyo Electron's shares have gained 45% this year with Screen Holdings up about 60%.