Neal Hunter resigned last week as chairman of LED and chip firm Cree in order to pursue other interests and was replaced almost immediately by Charles Swoboda, the company’s president and chief executive officer.

Hunter’s resignation was effective April 25. He had been chairman since 1995 and served as CEO from 1994 to 2001. Swoboda had taken the CEO post in 2001.

Hunter told The News & Observer of Raleigh that he would disclose details about his new focus in the near future. He said his plans were not related to a real estate development he is directing.

“Neal has served Cree with dedication and passion over the last 18 years. His leadership and contributions were instrumental in growing the company from an idea, shared by six co-founders, to the successful public company and technology success story that it is today,” Swoboda said in a statement. “Our people, technology and financial resources give Cree a unique opportunity to revolutionize industries and change how people use light and energy. I look forward to building on the foundation Neal helped to create and leading the company in realizing our vision.”

Hunter was one of the firm’s co-founders in 1987. His decision comes after a tumultuous year for Cree. Hunter’s brother, Eric — a former CEO and co-founder of the firm — sued the company for more than $3 billion in 2003. That suit triggered a plunge in Cree’s stock price and a series of class action lawsuits as well as an SEC inquiry. Eric later dropped the suit and the class action suits were dismissed.

Cree: www.cree.com