Infineon starts German exodus with auto unit-paper

MUNICH, April 28 (Reuters) - The head of German chipmaker Infineon was quoted on Monday as saying the company would move its automotive and industrial division to Austria, the first step in a possible exodus from its home turf.

Long a vociferous critic of Germany's high taxes, Infineon Chief Executive Ulrich Schumacher told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung he expected "significant synergies" from the move, which would see the division's management relocated from Munich to join over 2,000 employees already working at its site in Villach, Austria.

"The relocation of the automotive division is the beginning. Other steps will follow," Schumacher was quoted as saying.

"Conditions are better in Austria... We work there very co-operatively and undogmatically with the workers' council," he said, adding that there were also tax advantages.

An Infineon spokesman said the move was not primarily aimed at bringing about tax benefits, but would serve to make communication within the division easier.

The company, which employs some 16,000 people in Germany and pays around 150 million euros a year in German tax, has said it may move its headquarters out of Germany and has already transferred part of its accounting operations to Portugal.

Schumacher said no decision on moving the corporate headquarters had yet been taken.