AST Research Inc. of Irvine said Friday...

Times Staff Writer

AST Research Inc. of Irvine said Friday that Bruce Edwards, its chief financial officer, will be leaving the computer accessory maker at the end of the month to head a newly formed high-technology company in Orange County.

AST declined to reveal the name of the new company or its line of business and Edwards, who will become the firm's chief executive officer, could not be reached for comment.

Edwards, 34, who has been with AST for the last three years and has helped manage the company's rapid growth, is the second member of the company's top management team to leave within the last two months. In June, Thomas Stickel, senior vice president for sales and marketing left to resume his marketing consulting business.

The recent resignations have come at a difficult time for AST, which has recently seen its sales and profits slip as computer giant IBM has increasingly moved its products onto AST's accessory turf. Last month the company laid off 65 workers and announced lower quarterly sales and earnings for the first time in its six-year history.

Safi Qureshey, AST's president, will assume the additional position of acting chief financial officer until Edward's successor is chosen. The company did not say when the position would be filled permanently.

Despite the silence surrounding Edward's departure, a company spokesman said there was no animosity between Edwards and remaining AST officials. The spokesman characterized Edwards' move as taking advantage of an opportunity to head a company, something he would not have had at AST because all three founders are still in their mid 30s.

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