PORTLAND – Fairchild Semiconductor has moved its corporate headquarters from South Portland to Silicon Valley in an effort to sharpen its image as a leading international producer of silicon chips.

The change will not affect operations in Maine or prompt layoffs or transfers, said Kevin London, Fairchild’s senior vice president of human resources.

“Everything is the same. We will run things as we have been,” said London, noting that the company has long maintained an office in San Jose, Calif. “(The relocation) has no effect on the operational parts of our business.”

London said the shift to Silicon Valley, home to thousands of high-tech companies, will reflect Fairchild’s growth and status as a leading technology company.

“We want to develop our branding to be seen within the broader technological community as being in the Valley, and as part of the huge technological infrastructure out there,” he said.

London said Fairchild, which is incorporated in Delaware, has been legally headquartered in South Portland since 1997, when it was spun off from National Semiconductor.

At that time, he said, South Portland was a good choice. The company was relatively small, with annual sales of about $500 million, and its chips were essentially commodities. Fairchild competed with seven or eight other suppliers.

Since then, London said, the company and the market have changed.

Fairchild now has sales of $1.6 billion and operations in 27 countries, and works closely with clients to design highly specialized chips with proprietary designs.

On some projects, London said, Fairchild competes with only one other company; sometimes there is no competition.

The move to San Jose, he said, “reflects the changes in our company.”

Craig Berger, an analyst with the Arlington, Va.-based investment bank FBR Capital Markets, said in an email that the relocation makes sense.

“All the engineers are in Silicon Valley. (CEO Mark) Thompson is from Silicon Valley. All the other chip firms are there. Why does Fairchild need to stay in Maine? . . . To me, it just makes sense to be in the hub of activity.”

London said Fairchild will maintain three large corporate offices, as it has for years. He said each handles a range of corporate functions.

Sales, for instance, is led out of the Singapore office, top legal staffers are based in Portland, and Thompson works from San Jose.

London said the shift has no association with a manufacturing restructuring plan, announced in September, that included 120 layoffs.

Fairchild was founded in 1955 in California’s Santa Clara Valley, now known as Silicon Valley. Schlumberger Ltd. bought Fairchild in 1979 and sold the company to National Semiconductor in 1987. Fairchild became an independent company based in South Portland when it was divested by National Semiconductor in 1997.

Staff Writer Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be reached at 791-6316 or at: [email protected]