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Britain risks chip-making future over Newport wafer fab – The Times

May 9, 2022
semiconductor manufacturing

Amid a global silicon shortage, is the UK missing its best shot to build a high-tech industry, asked yesterday’s Sunday Times.

According to reports, a review into the planned takeover of a Newport company, NWF, by a Chinese-owned firm, Nexperior, is being delayed, despite the Prime Minister’s assurance he had commissioned such a report. Concerns have been raised about the takeover of Newport Wafer Fab by Nexperia, a company with links to the Chinese Communist Party, over fears it could compromise national security.

Nexperia’s acquisition of NWF is a clear example of the incredibly complex regulatory environment surrounding semiconductor M&A. NWF is the UK’s largest producer of silicon wafers and specialises in high-end silicon semiconductor chips. In July 2021, Nexperia announced that it had acquired 100% ownership of NWF. Nexperia is a Dutch company, however it is ultimately owned by Wingtech Technology, a Shanghai listed company.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK House of Commons issued a report recommending that the UK Government call in the acquisition for urgent review and the Prime Minister announced a review by the National Security Advisor. Unusually, this review appears to be conducted outside the UK’s new (and very broad) National Security and Investment Act regime which came into force in January 2022.

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